Smoke-Free 25th SEA Games targets athletes and public

Posted by samakomlao Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Information on a smoke-free SEA Games will be provided to all athletes at the residential village, sport facilities and venues during the games in December.

Programme Manager at Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Laos , Ms Karmen Till said yesterday that the publicity material would be directed at spectators and athletes including coaches, trainers, managers and supervisors.

A team of trained volunteers would monitor compliance together with security services at all sport venues.

“The Smoke Free SEA Games plan is to ban smoking in all SEA Games venues, indoor and outdoor, covering sport facilities, athletes' dormitories and offices,” Ms Till said. She explained that the programme will also ban cigarettes sales, all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and publicise the ‘No Smoking' message during the games.

The Smoke-Free Vientiane project began in May 2008. Early in 2009, the Vientiane Administration Office issued a smoke-free regulation and started campaigning before the official launch day last week.

The campaign has the support of the Vientiane Administration Office, Ministry of Public Health, Health Committee for the SEA Games and Lao National Sport Committee, while non-government partners include the World Health Organisation, ADRA in Laos and the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance.

“Before this project in Vientiane , we were successful in implementing smoke-free projects in Luang Prabang in 2007 and Champassak in 2008. As the first smoke-free city in Laos , Luang Prabang was nominated and received an award from the World Health Organisation on World No Tobacco Day on June 26 2008,” she explained.

The programme reported that smoke-free campaigns are promoted in various forms of media in both electronic and print. Sometimes websites help to reach different types of audiences, and stories or articles are submitted to the media. “We also provide information and knowledge directly to the audience by using printed materials such as fact sheets, guidelines, stickers, posters, banners, billboards and signs. Our aim is not only to have the public comply with the smoke-free regulations during the games, but to also create a norm of ‘No-Smoking' in Lao society,” Ms Till said.

The SEA Games is to be smoke free so that health and friendship is promoted during the competition. The Philippines , Vietnam and Thailand all enforced smoke-free zones when they hosted past SEA Games.

Ms Till added that the smoke-free regulation does not forbid smokers to smoke. It is to protect the health of non-smokers from the danger of second-hand smoke exposure that cause tobacco related diseases and death.

“If a smoker needs to smoke, he or she can do so away from the venue or where smoking is allowed. Smoke-free zones will help a smoker to reduce the number of cigarettes consumed per day. If all public spaces such as workplaces or homes are smoke-free, a smoker tends to finally quit smoking,” she explained.

ARDA reported that public spaces included all indoor and outdoor workplaces, hospitals, schools, hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, shopping malls, temples, public transportation and stations, stadiums, parks and other public areas.

Smoke-free zones have been successfully implemented in many government ministries in Vientiane , hospitals, temples and schools.

By Souknilundon Southivongnorath

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