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WORLD: WHO charges major tobacco firms for misleading public

Vietnam News Service
June 1st, 2006

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday accused the tobacco industry of continuing to use misleading labeling such as light, clean, fresh, cool or mild in order to lure millions of people, many of them children, to take up the deadly habit of smoking.

The theme of the annual World No Tobacco Day, observed today, is "Tobacco: deadly in any form or disguise". It calls attention to the tobacco industryís lies and to the existence of a great variety of deadly tobacco products. "We are concerned that many people in Viet Nam still hold the incorrect belief that cigarettes described as light, mild or low-tar, or water pipe tobacco, are less harmful for their health," said Dr Hans Troedsson, WHO Representative in Viet Nam.

He called upon the Government to ban misleading terms and insist on graphic health warnings on cigarette packages in Viet Nam as required in the WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control, the global tobacco control treaty, which Viet Nam joined on March 17, 2005.

The Ministry of Healthís Legislation Department has since early this year been working on a draft law on the prevention and control of tobacco damages.

An official from the department said the draft law would require tobacco manufacturers to print health warnings on cigarette packages, using both text and graphics.

The draft law would also ban the retail sale of less than 20 cigarettes in order to prevent children, who donít have much money, from buying tobacco in smaller, cheaper amounts.

The ministry said a recent survey showed that 56.1 per cent of adult men in Viet Nam smoke.

Smokers spend roughly VND8.2 trillion (US$513 million) on cigarettes every year.

Every smoker also loses VND32 million on average from the time they start smoking to when they contract smoking-related diseases, the survey found.

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