Tobacco Control Policies in Vietnam: Review on MPOWER Implementation Progress and Challenges


Hanoi School of Public Health, Hanoi, Vietnam


In Vietnam, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) took effect in March
2005 while MPOWER has been implemented since 2008. This paper describes the progress and challenges of
implementation of the MPOWER package in Vietnam. We can report that, in term of monitoring, Vietnam is very
active in the Global Tobacco Surveillance System, completing two rounds of the Global Adult Tobacco Survey
(GATS) and three rounds of the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS). To protect people from tobacco smoke,
Vietnam has issued and enforced a law requiring comprehensive smoking bans at workplaces and public places
since 2013. Tobacco advertising and promotion are also prohibited with the exception of points of sale displays
of tobacco products. Violations come in the form of promotion girls, corporate social responsibility activities
from tobacco manufacturers and packages displayed by retail vendors. Vietnam is one of the 77 countries that
require pictorial health warnings to be printed on cigarette packages to warn about the danger of tobacco and
the warnings have been implemented effectively. Cigarette tax is 70% of factory price which is equal to less than
45% of retail price and much lower than the recommendation of WHO. However, Vietnam is one of the very
few countries that require manufacturers and importers to make “compulsory contributions” at 1-2% of the
factory price of cigarettes sold in Vietnam for the establishment of a Tobacco Control Fund (TCF). The TCF is
being operated well. In 2015, 67 units of 63 provinces/cities, 22 ministries and political-social organizations and 6
hospitals received funding from TCF to implement a wide range of tobacco control activities. Cessation services
have been starting with a a toll-free quit-line but need to be further strengthened. In conclusion, Vietnam has
constantly put efforts into the tobacco control field with high commitment from the government, scientists and
activists. Though several remarkable achievements have been gained, many challenges remain. To overcome
those challenges, implementation strategies that take into account the contextual factors and social determinants
of tobacco use in Vietnam are needed.