Myanmar: Shan caves awarded as smoke-free heritage site

26 November 2018
Aung Phay Kyi Soe

The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance has honoured Pindaya Caves in Shan State with an award for promoting a healthy environment and preserving the uniqueness of its culture by being a smoke-free heritage site.

The Southeast Asian anti-tobacco advocacy group gave the award to Pindaya Caves at the 6th Regional Meeting of Smoke-Free Cities in the Asia-Pacific Region and the Summit of Smoke-Free Leaders in Hoi An, Vietnam, last week. 

Other heritage sites that have received technical assistance from the alliance for their smoke-free campaigns include Angkor in Cambodia; Borobudur and Prambanan Temple compounds in Indonesia; Malacca and Georgetown in Penang, Malaysia; and Luang Prabang and Vat Phou in Champasak, Laos.

“We have successfully accomplished making Pindaya Caves smoke-free – the first such heritage site in Myanmar. This site prohibits visitors from smoking tobacco in the area, which is why it won the award,” U Sai Win Zaw Hlaing, deputy director of the Shan State Health Department, said on Saturday.

The alliance also awarded a “plaque of recognition” to U Myo Tun, the state social welfare minister, for his exemplary commitment to protecting the health of the people of Shan by promoting a smoke-free environment. 

The smoke-free campaign at Pindaya Caves and Inle Lake was launched in 2015 by the Shan Health Department and Shan Sports Department in 2015. It included public education campaigns about the health benefits of not smoking. Volunteers trained by the campaign reminded visitors not to smoke in smoke-free areas.

The campaign plans to declare 106 more smoke-free sites in Shan, including at such popular destinations as Goke-Hteik railway bridge, Baw Kyo pagodas in Thibaw, and Man Su pagoda in Lashio.