Bangkok, 13 February 2019: The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) strongly supports Thailand’s move to ban smoking inside the passenger buildings of all its airports to protect employees and non-smoking travelers from exposure to secondhand smoke.
On 3 February 2019, the Airports of Thailand PCL (AoT) management removed all smoking rooms inside the airports of Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai and Mae Fah Luang. This is in line with Thailand’s Tobacco Products Control Act of 2017 (TPCA) and the Ministry of Public Health announcement in 2018 that required offices of government agencies and state enterprises, including airports, to declare no smoking areas to protect non-smokers. Those caught violating will be fined up to THB 5,000 (approximately US$ 160).
“We are very pleased with this news and we urge the government to monitor the compliance and strictly impose the penalty,” said Dr. Domilyn Villarreiz, SEATCA’s Smoke-free Program Manager.
Article 8 Guidelines of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) on the Protection from Exposure to Tobacco Smoke states 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.
Studies have shown that secondhand smoke can transfer from designated smoking areas into nonsmoking areas in airports, where nonsmoking travelers and employees can be exposed. In addition to subjecting nonsmoking travelers who pass through these areas to involuntary secondhand smoke exposure, designated or ventilated smoking areas can also result in involuntary exposure of airport employees who are required to enter these areas or work near them.
“Tourism is an important economic driver of countries like Thailand. Successful tourism relies not only on available and efficient tourism infrastructure such as airports and other transportation facilities but also on a healthy and welcoming environment. This is a big move for Thailand considering it is frequented by close to 39 million international tourists annually. This is not only good for the environment but ultimately good for people’s health and the economy,” added Villarreiz.
In the ASEAN region, Brunei is the first international airport that became smoke-free. Suvarnabhumi with passenger traffic of around 60 million annually is the first busiest international airport to ban smoking indoors in ASEAN. This move by Thailand to ban smoking inside passenger terminals of large-hub airports like Suvarnabhumi and other smaller airports should encourage other airports in the ASEAN region to also do the same to protect the health of everyone.
- Six airports declared no-smoking zones from Feb 3
- Thailand’s Tourism Statistics 2017
- Guidelines for implementation of Article 8 – https://www.who.int/fctc/guidelines/adopted/article_8/en/
- Airport smoking rooms don’t work
- Air quality in and around airport enclosed smoking rooms
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.