ASEAN campaign vs smoking launched

DAVAO CITY — Civil society groups in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) yesterday launched a tobacco-use control campaign in a bid to curb smoking.

In a press briefing during the opening of the three-day event, dubbed “Smoke-free Laws: Strengthening Enforcement Towards Building Model Smoke-Free Cities in ASEAN,” Bung-on Ritthiphakdee, director of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, said the campaign aims to call on ASEAN members to help control smoking.

Ms. Ritthiphakdee cited Davao City which should be emulated “in many aspects, especially in its smoke-free efforts.”

The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance awarded the city government on Monday for its campaign on tobacco control.

Based on the conference briefer, the roughly 100 delegates from various ASEAN member countries will kick off by the end of the event a Smoke-free Cities ASEAN Network that aims to initiate policies and exert “efforts to rid public places all over Southeast Asia of toxic tobacco smoke.”

Except for Indonesia, all ASEAN members are parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Signatories to the convention are committed “to establishing 100% smoke-free environments,” said Ms. Ritthiphakdee.

Davao City, one of the six Philippine cities that received the Red Orchid Award from the Department of Health for its anti-smoking policy, has recently amended its anti-smoking ordinance by making it more difficult to smoke in public places.

The new law specifies that restaurants and other similar establishments should have separate smoking areas away from the building and must be enclosed. The previous provision only require establishments to have a smoking corner within the premises.

Another new feature is the ban on electronic cigarettes which were not covered in the previous ordinance.

ASEAN groups Brunei Darrusalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. — C. Q. Francisco

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