Exposing interference of tobacco industry in Vietnam
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HealthBridge Foundation of Canada, Vietnam Office, Viet Nam
Publish date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A74
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Vietnam ratified the FCTC in 2004 and passed a National Tobacco Control Law in 2012. However, due to strong interference of the tobacco industry (TI), the policy development/implementation process has faced a lot of challenges, and the country has not yet implemented FCTC Article 5.3. The aim of this research was to investigate and expose TI tactics and violations in tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Media surveillance was conducted from 1/2014 to 5/2016 on a daily basis, including online media and the 56 most exposed printed newspapers. A screening mechanism was set up to identify all articles on tobacco and tobacco control and classified them by specific topics and by the "attitude" (positive or negative point of view). Information on TI was examined in depth to identify tactics and violations, and inform tobacco control networks and government authorities.

1,353 articles related to the TI were identified among a total of 3,908 tobacco-related articles. Promoting of TI corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities were the most common violation. The main kinds of CSR activities were charitable, living condition improvement, and poverty reduction. Key TI partners in performing CSR included local government, and socio-political organizations, and some newspapers. There were high levels of interaction between TI and government through rotation of officials between the TI and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, collaboration in smuggling control, active participation of the TI in policy development, and because of high appreciation of government for the TI's contribution. The TI interfered in tobacco tax policy development by providing misleading information on the burden of smuggling, and exaggerating the tobacco control environment in Vietnam.

There is increasing interference of the TI to undermine the impact of tobacco control efforts. The country needs to strengthen the implementation of FCTC Article 5.3 to reduce TI interference.