An Nghia Commune, a mountainous region in Lac Son District, Hoa Binh Province, has become notorious for the great number of people addicted to pipe tobacco.
Women smoking on market days
The weather in this area is misty and cold year round, so people here say they smoke to keep warm. The habit began dozens of years ago when French colonialists forced local people to clear forests to cultivate tobacco and opium.
Since then, the number of smokers has risen. Now, in this Muong village, almost every family has members addicted to tobacco.
On market days at Re Market more tobacco is sold than other agricultural products. People smoke tobacco as a way of greeting, forming “tobacco culture”. Warnings by medical professionals do not seem to make much impact.
Xa Thi Huynh is a 71-year-old woman who has smoked tobacco for 60 years. She said her addiction began when she saw other family members smoking.
In An Nghia Commune, there are hundreds of cases like Xa Thi Huynh, and the younger generation seems to be following the example of their parents and grandparents.
Though the price of tobacco is high in comparison with incomes in this region, old habits here remain hard to change.
Tobacco vendors at Re Market
Smoking not limited to men
Xa Thi Huynh has smoked for 60 years
Smoking large pipe while walking