ASEAN Sec Gen launches campaign towards a smoker-free ASEAN

ASEAN Sec Gen launches campaign towards a smoke-free ASEAN at the 15th WCTOH

March 21-SINGAPORE : At the opening ceremonies of the 15th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH), ASEAN Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan called on the convention’s 2,600 international delegates to help ASEAN move towards a 100% smoke-free environment in the region.

Dr. Surin said the 15th WCTOH being held in Singapore is very important not only because it is the first time it is held in the ASEAN region, but also because it marks a milestone on tobacco control in the ASEAN. “Together, the ASEAN Member States and the global tobacco control community will work hand-in-hand to attain our goal of making a tobacco-free world,” he said.

Dr Surin noted that in 2015, ASEAN will become “One Community known as ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).” He stressed that “although Free Trade has been seen as a key agenda of ASEAN, we believe it is not enough to focus only on free trade and fair trade, but SAFE trade should be a primary consideration. “

Dr. Surin quoted from His Majesty, Brunei Sultan Bolkiah in an International Seminar on Tobacco or Health: “There are those who may argue from the economic standpoint that tobacco is one of the factors that can generate revenue. However, from another perspective, others found as a matter of fact that smoking brings with it grave dangers that pose a threat to health, and indeed life itself.Economically, there may be many alternatives available, but where health and life are concerned, do we have any alternative? The answer is clearly no. There are no alternatives as far as health and life are concerned, because health and life are all that we have.Therefore, the issue before us is really quite obvious, whether we want to survive with smoking from the economic viewpoint, which has many alternatives, or do we choose one that totally has no alternative that is to safeguard health and save lives? ”

Dr. Surin also called on ASEAN’s governments to work with the international community, as well as with civil society within Southeast Asia.“Let us hope to extend the clean air on to every capital of ASEAN cities, and on to every street, to all 600 million people of ASEAN, by end of 2012”

SEATCA Director Bungon Ritthiphakdee said: “We are ready to work hand in hand with the ASEAN Secretariat, and we recognize the collaborative role the ASEAN Secretariat has brought forth in paving the way to make the region smoke-free. Our governments will be encouraged to put in place stronger tobacco control policies as we work better as a community, embraced by the leadership of the ASEAN,”

In a symbolic ceremony to mark the initiation of the campaign “10 countries, 1 vision: a smoke-free ASEAN”, 10 children with flags of the 10 ASEAN countries went onstage along with Ministers of Health and high level representatives.

All countries that comprise ASEAN, save for Indonesia, are parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The whole region thus recognizes that importance of the WHO-FCTC’s Article 8, which requires all Parties to the Convention to protect citizens from secondhand smoke in all public and work places and public transport.

Currently, almost 31% of the total adult population or about 125 million people in the ASEAN are regular smokers, which may result in the exposure of approximately 50% of children to secondhand smoke in their homes and in public places.

SEATCA Director Bungon Rithhiphakdee sharing SEATCA Publications to ASEAN Sec. Gen

Dr. Surin Pitsuwan at the SEATCA booth, 15th WCTOH

ASEAN Sec Gen Surin visits the SEATCA Booth featuring smoke-free world heritage sites

in the ASEAN region

(L-R) Dr. Domilyn Villarreiz, SEATCA FCTC Programme manager, Dr. Surin, Dr. Molly Chia,

and SEATCA Director Bungon Ritthiphakdee

ASEAN Sec. Gen Surin with Health ministers and government representatives of ASEAN

launching the campaign towards a smoke-free ASEAN