E-cigarette displays great dangers to young generations

SGGP Newspaper has conducted an interview with Vice Chairman of the National Medical Council Luong Ngoc Khue on the harms of e-cigarettes to young people.


Vice Chairman Luong Ngoc Khue first gave a summary of 10 years adopting the Law on Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harms. Accordingly, the proportion of regular cigarette use among male adults in Vietnam reduces 0.5 percent per year on average. The smoking rate among adolescents sees a drop as well from 5.36 percent in 2013 to 2.78 percent in 2019 in the 13-to-17 age group.

Nevertheless, e-cigarette overuse has increased, causing negative influences on the health of users as well as the community. Statistics from nearly 700 clinics reveal that in 2023, more than 1,200 cases required emergency care due to e-cigarette use, many of whom are adolescents.

More worryingly, the proportion of e-cigarette consumption among students from 13 to 17 years old rose from 2.6 percent in 2019 to 8.1 percent in 2023. The figures for the 13-to-15-year-old also grew from 3.5 percent in 2022 to 8 percent in 2023.

Vice Chairman Khue explained that this increase is because this merchandise has various designs, types, prices, and flavors to attract the young. Moreover, the management and control of e-cigarettes are rather loose, leading to easy approach of young people to this harmful product. But more seriously, most users think that e-cigarettes are stylish and not as destructive as traditional ones.

The reality is, however, contradict to that. E-cigarettes and new forms of tobacco are paving the way for the dangerous trend of addiction to synthetic artificial chemicals, including nicotine and other new generations of heroin. This creates a huge burden on the healthcare and economic systems as well as social security.

Even with the Law on Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harms, the management of e-cigarettes and new forms of tobacco still encounters several obstacles since these merchandise items are not the subjects of the Law. Therefore, it is necessary to urgently update the Law to cope with new situations.

Sadly, the procedure to amend the Law takes a lot of time. Hence, the Health Ministry is considering a proposal to the Government for the National Assembly to release a resolution to forbid the manufacturing, trading, import, and advertising of e-cigarettes, heated cigarettes, and other new forms of tobacco that might appear in the future.

When asked if this ban is against the global trend or not, the Vice Chairman stressed that it is the approval of manufacturing or trading these items that is contrary to the principles of reducing supply and demands according to WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as well as the National Strategy on Preventing and Controlling Harmful Effects of Tobacco.

WHO’s statistics show that at least 39 countries and territories completely prohibit e-cigarette products, including five in ASEAN (Thailand, Singapore, Laos, Brunei, and Cambodia).

In Vietnam, on May 24, 2023, the Prime Minister introduced Decision No.568/QD-TTg to greenlight the National Strategy on Preventing and Controlling Harmful Effects of Tobacco until 2030. One goal in this strategy is to stop the use of e-cigarette products, shisha, and other new forms of tobacco in the community.

Lately, the Prime Minister released Dispatch No.47/CD-TTg about tightening the control over e-cigarettes and heated cigarettes in order to promptly stop negative influences of these products on the health of users and the community.

WHO itself has already sent a recommendation to the National Assembly regarding the introduction of a resolution to ban the import, manufacturing, distribution, and advertising of e-cigarettes in Vietnam.

Dr. Angela Pratt, WHO’s representative in Vietnam, shared that new nicotine and tobacco products are not at all safe or good for health. In the short term, they might create serious and acute lung damages that can lead to death. These items might also severely affect brain development of children and adolescents. The complete prohibition of new tobacco products is the sole choice to protect the health of the country’s most important resource – the young generations.

Head Kieu Duong of the Police – Legal Department (under the General Department of Market Surveillance) informed that doing business on new tobacco generations is not forbidden, as stipulated in Article 6 of the 2020 Investment Law. There are also no regulations as to banning the manufacturing and trading of new tobacco generations. E-cigarettes are not within the adjustment scope of the 2012 Law on Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harms.

Because of inconsistent management policies for new generations of tobacco, functions agencies now can only impose administrative sanctions on organizations and individuals doing business on these merchandise items based on regulations about trading smuggled or unclear-origin goods. This results in ineffective prevention of businesses on new generations of tobacco. Obviously, there should be clearer policies for this matter.

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