The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) goes into effect in March 2005. Vietnam Tobacco Association’s (VTA) Hanoi representative office director Bui Nhat Tien explains how it will work to Vu Long.
Could you please point out the main features of the FCTC which will affect local cigarette firms?
The FCTC comes into effect on March 1, 2005, and calls for strong action to control cigarette consumption. Cigarette control will be strictly implemented via pricing and taxation, regulations on the packaging and labelling of tobacco products, tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, sales to and by minors, and regulations concerning the contents of tobacco products.
What will be the most difficult regulation for cigarette firms to implement?
Cigarette firms will be banned from advertising, promotion and sponsorship campaigns under various modes. Furthermore, new taxation measures will be considered to increase the price of cigarettes to limit consumption. Plus, cigarette firms will have to re-arrange their packaging and labelling in accordance with FCTC regulations that require 30 to 50% of the cover of a cigarette pack to consist of warnings on the dangers of smoking.
Do you think such strict requirements will hit the cigarette industry hard?
No, I don’t think so. Cigarette advertising has already been prohibited in Vietnam through various measures. Regarding cigarette pack warnings, I think the VTA will collaborate with concerned ministries, such as Health, Industry, Trade, Planning and Investment, to map out a suitable plan to help cigarette firms prepare for the new regulations in time. Under the FCTC, pending time should be three years after the agreement comes into effect.
What about promotion and sponsorship campaigns by cigarette firms?
I think the definition of advertising, promotion and sponsorship should be further clarified. The provision of corporate information and product displays by cigarette firms are very necessary practices as cigarettes are considered commodities. The business of cigarettes has already been adjusted by trade law regulations.
What suggestions will you make to concerned ministries?
The VTA is cooperating with the ministries of Health, Industry, Trade, Planning and Investment to outline a FCTC implementation plan. Tobacco profits should be equalised between the State, cigarette firms and the people. I think the new regulations will significantly affect cigarette firms, so concerned ministries need to thoroughly map out an implementation plan to minimise adverse impacts.
What kind of preparations is the VTA conducting for the implementation of the FCTC?
Since the drafting of the FCTC, VTA has organised information exchanges with member companies so as to actively prepare for the introduction of the new regulations on nicotine and tar reductions.