Lax tobacco ad rules provide loopholes
  • By Tu Anh | | May 22, 2012 12:03 PM

Tobacco companies have been finding various ways to get around Vietnam's law on advertisement of their products.


 Lax tobacco ad rules provide loopholes

Although tobacco sales and use is not banned in Vietnam, the advertisement of tobacco products is restricted. Shops which sell cigarettes are only permitted to display only one box of one cigarette brand.

Still, the majority of retail shops either ignore the rules, or display a number of boxes of the same brand but different types. In a report, conducted over three years, by School of Public Health, involving more than 1,500 cigarette shops, showed that 90% violate the rules even after fines were doubled.

Le Thanh Huong, co-ordinator of a project whose aim is to ban cigarette advertisement in Vietnam, said that allowing these shops to display cigarettes, in effect, allows them to get away with violating the law.

She said that cigarette companies are adept in finding ways to get around current regulations. For example, she said, they can display several different types of cigarettes under one brand name. She added that they also regularly place cigarettes neer candy or cakes that teenagers are apt to buy, making cigarettes appear normal to them.

Meanwhile, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, approved in 2004, stated that Vietnam should completely ban all types of cigarette displays or advertisements.

According to many, the current regulations are ineffective.

In draft circular on reducing the harmful effects of tobacco, which will be sent to the Government in the next session of National Assembly, stated that, "Shops will continue to be able to display cigarettes, as long as it is only one box of one cigarette types per brand."

According to Huong, "Both companies and retail shops will make use of the 'one-product policy', because each cigarette brand normally has 5 or 6 types. If the rules are allowed then thousands of tobacco types will readily visible. The Government should make a comprehensive policy to ban the advertisement of tobacco products."

The draft circular also attracts many debates on no smoking areas, sponsorships of the cigarette companies.

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