100% tobacco-free Tokyo 2020 laudable, SEA Games must do the same

Bangkok, 12 March 2019: The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics Organizing Committee’s decision to ban smoking in all game venues including its perimeters in Tokyo next year sends a strong message to the rest of the world that Japan is serious about ending its reputation as a smoker’s paradise. 

With the guidance of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the ban also includes heated tobacco products (HTPs) and vaping devices, which are quickly gaining popularity especially among the youth. Because tobacco is inherently toxic and contains carcinogens and toxicants even if not burned, the World Health Organization (WHO) has emphasized that all forms of tobacco use are harmful, including HTPs.

“Tobacco and sports don’t mix. Going smoke-free is one of the healthiest messages any sporting event can share to the world,” said Dr. Domilyn Villarreiz, Smoke-free Program Manager of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA). “This move not only protects non-smokers from exposure to secondhand smoke but also encourages athletes and spectators, especially young people, to choose to be healthy and not to smoke,” she added.

The tradition of hosting a tobacco-free Olympics began in 1988 during the Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. All Olympics games held since then have been tobacco-free.

“We commend the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and all those who worked hard for this achievement. In 2005, the Philippines was the first ASEAN country to host a smoke-free Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. With the return of the SEA Games to the Philippines this year, we hope this tradition continues,” said Villarreiz.

In November this year, the Philippines will host the 30th SEA Games, which will be the biggest SEA Games in history. The games will be attended by around 10,000 athletes, who will compete in more than 500 events of 56 sports across 4 main venues. 

International implementation guidelines on Protection from Exposure to Tobacco Smoke state that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke and only 100 percent smoke-free environments can fully protect the public from the lethal effects of tobacco smoke. Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals including at least 70 known to cause cancer and the rest causing other serious health problems.


Wendell C Balderas, Media and Communications Manager – SEATCA
Email: wendell@seatca.org | Mobile: +63 999 881 2117 ##


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SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the evidence-based tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control movements in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award in 2014.


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