Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death globally. Vietnam’s 2012 Law on Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harms establishes all healthcare facilities as smoke-free environments. We aimed to evaluate the implementation of these policies within health facilities across Vietnam.
A cross-sectional study was undertaken at 40 central, provincial, district and commune healthcare facilities in four provinces of Vietnam. The presence of tobacco sales, smoke-free signage, evidence of recent tobacco use and smoking behaviours by patients and staff were observed over a 1-week period at multiple locations within each facility. Adherence with national regulations was reported using descriptive statistics.
23 out of 40 facilities (57.5%) followed the requirements of the national smoke-free policy regarding tobacco sales, advertising and signage. Smoking was observed within health facility grounds at 26 (65%) facilities during the observation period. Indirect evidence of smoking was observed at 35 (88%) facilities. Sites where smoking was permitted (n=2) were more likely to have observed smoking behaviour (relative risk (RR) 2.16, 95% CI 1.83 to 2.56). Facilities where tobacco was sold (n=7) were more likely to have smoking behaviour observed at any of their sites (RR 1.53, 95% CI 0.93 to 2.51).
Implementation of current smoke-free hospital regulations remains incomplete, with widespread evidence of smoking observed at three levels of the Vietnamese healthcare facilities. Further interventions are required to establish the reputation of Vietnamese healthcare facilities as smoke-free environments.