Building back better: Smoke-free tourism across the Asia Pacific

25 October 2023

By Dr. Domilyn Villarreiz

In February, Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism officially declared Kampot City as a smoke-free tourism city, making it one of the latest additions to smoke-free tourist destinations in the Asia Pacific region. The Ministry of Tourism cited the importance of building healthy, smoke-free environments to strengthen the country’s tourism sector and to protect the well-being of visitors exploring tourism sites. 
The Durian Roundabout is one of the key places to visit in Kampot City, a city known for its winding river, caves, and secret lake.

Kampot City is one of the many smoke-free cities in the Asia Pacific region, and it is also one of the 355 members of the Smoke-Free Cities Asia Pacific Network (SCAN), a coalition of cities, municipalities, provinces, states, and districts in Asia Pacific countries that collaborate towards promoting smoke-free places in their countries Including smoke-free tourism sites, such as smoke-free heritage sites and cultural landmarks.

What is smoke-free tourism?

The tourism sector in Asia Pacific is estimated to bring in USD 138 million in revenues for 2023 and up  to USD 414 million by 2033. 705 million tourists are expected to explore the region in 2023, and possibly more in the years to come as countries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Exposure to secondhand smoke, from both conventional cigarettes and electronic smoking devices, is harmful and can cause serious illnesses. Smoke-free tourist destinations fully protect everyone who visits these sites, and also encourages smokers to quit smoking.

Smoke-free tourism also protects timeless heritage sites from smoke damage, eliminates risks of fire, and addresses litter caused by cigarette butts and disposable e-cigarettes, ensuring that our air and surroundings are clean, safe, and free of pollution. 

Smoke-free tourism adheres to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a global health treaty explicitly identified as a means to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Smoke-free heritage/tourist sites in ASEAN countries, with the following pilot smoke-free sites (image on the right), have been supported by  the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) and WHO Western Pacific Regional Office since 2012.

Launched in August 2022 at the 8th Asia Pacific Smoke-Free Meeting in Baguio City, Philippines, the Global Alliance for Smoke-Free Tourism (GAST) now counts 127 smoke-free tourism sites as members.

The Asia Pacific is home to thousands of picturesque places for everyone to visit and explore. Keeping our tourist sites and our cities smoke-free helps promote a healthy and pristine environment that safeguards everyone’s well-being and enjoyment. On this World Tourism Day, we call on ministries of tourism and remind everyone, “Go green; go smoke-free!”

Cities, states, provinces, and other subnational governments interested in learning more about smoke-free cities may visit https://smokefreeasean.seatca.org. 

 

Contact Information: 

Val Bugnot, Media and Communications Manager, SEATCA  
Email: val@seatca.org   
Mobile: +639173124600

Relevant Links:

  1. Smoke-free Index, 2020
  2. Towards a Smoke-Free ASEAN & Beyond: A Decade of Advancing a Genuine Smoke-Free Future

About the author

Dr. Domilyn Villarreiz is the Smoke-free Program Manager of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance and Secretary-General of the Smoke-free Cities Asia Pacific Network. She is also seconded to the Global Alliance for Tobacco Control as a Regional Coordinator for the Western Pacific Region. Dr. Villarreiz is a Doctor of Medicine and a Registered Medical Technologist and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health.

About SEATCA

SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control 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.