HCMC may get tough on smoking, drinking in government offices

By Toan Dao   October 10, 2016 | 06:59 pm PT
HCMC may get tough on smoking, drinking in government offices
A man flicks ashes from his cigarette over a dustbin in Shanghai January 10, 2014. Photo by Reuters/Aly Song
Under newly proposed rules, government employees will not be allowed to consume alcohol even during lunch breaks.

Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Home Affairs has proposed a blanket ban on smoking and drinking in all government offices across the city and suggested severe punishments for violators, acccording to media reports.

The proposal, if approved by the city's government, will also require many government employees to give up alcohol consumption during lunch breaks. Gambling will be strictly prohibited as well.

The newly proposed rules have been seen as the home affairs department's commitment to maintain order and discipline in the government sector. It is unclear when the ban will take effect, if backed by the city leaders.

Vietnam does have a smoking ban for indoor spaces, but it is not always easy to police. Many offices and companies still allow smoke breaks as long as smokers go outdoors, which sometimes simply means smoking on fire escapes or near open windows.

Around 15.6 million Vietnamese smoke, according to the 2015 Adult Tobacco Survey released in September. That is 22.5 percent of the adult population, compared to 23.8 percent in 2010.

Statistics show about 19,500 people die from lung cancer in Vietnam every year. Smoking is to blame for the majority of cases.

Drinking alcohol, including beer and liquor, meanwhile, increases the risk of developing cancers of the mouth, upper throat, voice-box, bowels, liver and breasts, health experts say.

In 2013, the government urged cities and provinces to encourage public servants to stop smoking and drinking during office hours and lunch breaks, but it was more or less a symbolic pledge.

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