Health Foundation Chief Looks to Ban Smoking in Yangon

Yangon – The People’s Health Foundation is implementing a four-year plan to designate Yangon as a smoke-free city, according to foundation chairman Dr Than Sein.

Speaking at the launch of a campaign to raise public awareness about the dangers of passive smoking on Tuesday, Dr. Than Sein said the campaign aimed to prevent non-smokers from suffering the health consequences of passive smoking.

“Around 10 million people smoke in Myanmar and another 40 million non-smokers have to inhale secondhand smoke. We have launched this campaign to protect them from secondhand smoke,” he said.

The 2006 Control of Smoking and Consumption of Tobacco Law bans smoking in government offices, hotels, restaurants, tea shops, hospitals, schools, universities and transport hubs. However, some hotels and restaurants fail to comply with the law, he added.

The foundation plans to conduct the awareness campaign in 10 out of 33 townships in Yangon Region in the first phase. The plan includes airing anti-smoking programs on radio and television as well as on social media, plus a poster campaign.

“Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause fatal diseases. There is a higher risk for children and pregnant women,” said Dr. Than Sein.

Health consequences of passive smoking include asthma, lung infections, respiratory and cardiovascular problems and strokes. And babies can be underweight at birth if their mothers are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the Public Health Department.

The plan was launched in January and the People’s Health Foundation aims to turn Yangon into a smoke-free city by the end of 2022.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 8 million people die yearly from tobacco use and passive smoking is responsible for the deaths of 1.2 million.

Yangon Mayor U Maung Maung Soe said the plan aimed to provide an environment appropriate for public health. “It is mainly about protecting the people who don’t smoke from the health consequences of smoking,” he said.

Myanmar ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2013. The convention has so far been signed by 168 countries.

Source: Irrawaddy

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