1.38 billion USD is spent on cigarettes annually by Vietnamese, according to statistics released by Vietnam’s Ministry of Health. A further VND23 trillion a year is spent on the cost of treatment for five groups of diseases closely linked to smoking, as well as economic losses due to premature death and loss of labor caused by these diseases, the ministry said. At Vietnam National Cancer Hospital (K Hospital) in Hanoi, 97 percent of lung cancer patients are regular smokers. Vietnamese laws prohibit smoking in covered public areas, train stations and airports, though the regulation is often neglected and violators are rarely fined. The country also strictly forbids the advertising and sale promotion of cigarettes, and requires cigarette companies to print graphic images illustrating the harmful effects of smoking on their packages.

~20,000 cancer pills donated to Ho Chi Minh City hospital have ended up in the bin as it took nine months to complete all the procedures needed to receive the medicines. In mid-July 2013, Novatis Pharma AG, a subsidiary of Swiss healthcare firm Novatis, sent a letter to the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, offering to give the clinic 304 boxes of Tasigna, consisting of a total of 34,608 pills.
The pricey Tasigna drug is used for patients of chronic myelogenous leukemia, an uncommon type of blood cancer. However, the donated pills would not arrive in Ho Chi Minh City until the drugs were only ten months away from expiration. Consequently, the Ho Chi Minh City hospital could manage to use only 14,611 of the donated pills, with the remaining 19,997 tablets destroyed as they all had expired. The recipient, Hospital of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, alone wasted 4.5 months, as it knew of the donation in mid- July 2013 but only sought permission to receive the donation in late November the same year.

4kg of ivory and 3 sets of leopard skin, amongst other animal parts, were confiscated at Tan Son Nhat International Airport from the luggage of a female passenger. All items were from endangered animals listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, according to airport customs. The confiscated parts included 4kgs of sliced ivory pieces, nine elephant tails, a range of claws and three sets of African leopard skin, estimated to be worth a total of over VND2 billion on the black market. They were found stashed in the luggage of a 62-year-old Vietnamese woman who had traveled from Africa. The trafficked items have been seized as evidence while the woman is detained for further questioning.

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700g whale washes ashore in Central Vietnam. Hundreds of local residents from a tiny coastal village in the central province of Quang Ngai held a respectful burial ceremony for the large whale they had found on the beach. The whale, measuring more than 4m in length, was in critical condition and had sustained multiple injuries when fishermen discovered it. The villagers attempted to bring the whale, considered a ‘sacred animal’ by locals, back to the ocean, but their attempts were unsuccessful. After the whale had passed, they took the whale to a special area zoned for the burial. As per local custom, three years after its burial, the skeleton of the whale will be taken to a shrine, which fishermen will visit before they go to sea, in the hope that it will protect them against misfortune on the water.

27-year-old Vietnamese man swindled multiple firms by impersonating leaders’ voices. Phuong had defrauded business owners throughout the country out huge amounts of money by calling companies and impersonating local leaders asking to borrow money.
Phuong, who has a previous conviction for stealing assets, was nabbed while attempting to swindle a VND300 million SH scooter in the southern province of Long An. A C50 officer said even police were stunned by the voice impressionist’s talent for mimicking the voice of almost anyone, young or old, after only hearing their voice once. Phuong used the voices of local leaders, celebrities, and religious leaders to target companies he knew already had business or personal relations with those figures In the fraudulent phone calls, Phuong would tell the business owners that he was away on a business trip and one of his relatives had an accident and needed a huge amount of money.

1500 “toxic” Youtube videos were blocked by Google at Vietnam’s request. The ‘cleanup’ came more than a month after the Authority of Broadcasting and Electric Information under Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications demanded that more than 2,200 videos whose content is either fake be removed from Google-owned YouTube. The removal of the harmful YouTube videos is result of several working sessions between Vietnam and Google representatives, after which the internet giant has created a special mechanism allowing Vietnamese agencies to report numerous links with bad content at a time. YouTube has also provided additional tools to ensure that their commercials will not be placed alongside ‘toxic’ content on its platform. On top of working with Google to sweep ‘toxic’ videos off YouTube, Vietnam’s information ministry has also reached agreement with Facebook to ‘purify’ content on the world’s largest social network among local users.