Many Vietnamese ignore the threat posed to e their health from smoking tobacco, a new survey has found.
And the survey in Thai Binh, Da Nang and Ben Tre Provinces shows that men, the majority users, usually smoke when seated with their children, mothers, wives and sisters.
Typical was a smoker from Thai Binh Province who said: “I can’t stop myself from smoking and it’s impossible either to go outside to smoke, or not smoke in front of other people when you find yourself in the grip of tobacco addiction.”
Up to 97% of those surveyed answered ‘yes’ when asked if smoking was harmful to their health.
But most were not specific about the harm.
Some believed that only long-term smoking would have an adverse impact.
A common explanation was: “I have just started smoking, so I have not yet developed any disease,” or “I think I will have a disease only if continue smoking” or “Its harmful effects are very slow to develop… some people have smoked for about 30 years without becoming ill.”
The survey by the Vietnam Public Health Association and a Canadian organisation, The Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health, found that 53% of children in Da Nang come in contact with cigarette smoke, 47% in Thai Binh and 41% in Ben Tre provinces.
“I saw a father kissing his daughter while her cheeks were wreathed in his smoke,” said a man questioned in Ben Tre Province.
“Many people blow smoke with no regard for the presence of either children or adults”.
More than 90% of women questioned said it was unacceptable for the men to make their wives, children or others become passive smokers.
Most said they were uncomfortable when people smoked in their presence.
Many said they do not hesitate to ask men to stop.
Sixty-eight% of the women said they did so because they worried about the smoker’s health, 60% said they worried for themselves, 57% said they worried for their children’s health and 46% said they disliked the stench.
Yet only half were determined to stop people from smoking.
Their usual response was to move away from the smokers, turn on an electrical fan or open window.
The survey also found that 70% of women questioned had not spoken against men smoking in public places.
“At parties or crowded places, it’s not my home so I have to accept passive smoking,” one of those questioned explained.
About 80% of men questioned acknowledged that smoking in front of other people was unacceptable. The figure was higher when it came to wives, children and female colleagues.
Asked if they refused when offered a cigarette, almost 60% of questioned men said it would be impolite not to accept.
‘The survey found that most either put out their cigarette or moved away when asked not to smoke.
Eighty-five% of women used mild, flexible methods when trying to dissuade their men from smoking. They emphasised the need for a healthy environment, the effect on family finances and the need to set an example for children.
The survey showed it was necessary to make people more aware of the real harm done by cigarettes, said the Public Health Association’s Dr Pham Hoang Nga.
It was also necessary to encourage women to be confident about objecting to smoking within the family and public places.