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Tobacco Industry Monitor

Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance

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Vietnam’s tobacco industry currently consists of 30 companies consolidated under six corporations. These corporations are invested in diverse industries, but tobacco production and trading are their major businesses and are either “government or public owned and belonging to the central or a local government, a ministry, or the Communist Party”.[1] Established in 1985, the Vietnam National Tobacco Corporation (Vinataba) is the biggest of the six corporations, accounting for more than half (59%) of the total cigarette market share in terms of domestic consumption and export volume. Vinataba is state-owned and gives the government a firm grip in managing the industry. As a state-owned company, Vinataba continues to enjoy special privileges and recognition by the government.

Interference in blocking tobacco control measures

Vinataba is regarded as a government agency which enables it to intervene in tobacco control policies. It has participated in various policy discussions with the government on measures to control tobacco smuggling, including recommending to the government to use the Tobacco Control Fund for this purpose, when this fund is meant for public health programs. Besides that, Vinataba has interfered in other tobacco control measures including by establishing close relationships with government (Ministry of Industry and Trade) and high-level policymakers, funding meetings and study tours for policymakers and key officials from government agencies, and conducting corporate social responsibility activities to create a positive civic image. At present, Vietnam has no policy, guidelines or code of conduct in place to protect public health policymaking processes from tobacco industry interference.[2] 

*This article is excerpted from the 2019 SEATCA report, Asian State-Owned Tobacco Enterprises: Challenges & Opportunities in Implementing WHO FCTC Article 5.3.

[1] Tax Policy Department, Ministry of Finance, 2015 (Internal document, not publicly available)
[2] Vietnam country report, 2018, https://untobaccocontrol.org/impldb/wp-content/uploads/Viet_Nam_2018_report.pdf