20/11/2018 | 01:05 AM
In Hoi An, Viet Nam, on 20 November 2018: More than 100 smoke-free leaders and representatives from cities all over Asia Pacific were gathered in the Ancient town of Hoi An, Viet Nam to discuss steps to promote and strengthen the smoke-free campaign in different tourist attractions including heritage sites in the region.
The Sixth Regional Meeting of Smoke-Free Cities in the Asia-Pacific region was held in Hoi An, Viet Nam from 20 to 21 November 2018. This meeting of smoke-free cities was organized by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), the Smoke-free Cities Asia Pacific Network (SCAN) and the Viet Nam Tobacco Control Fund (VNTCF) of the Ministry of Health – Viet Nam in close collaboration with the World Health Organization in the Western Pacific and locally hosted by Hoi An People’s Committee.
The event was attended by more than 100 foreign delegates from smoke-free tourism cities of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, China and Mongolia. It also saw the presence of the Fund for Tobacco Harms Prevention and Control of the Vietnamese Ministry of Health, the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO) for the Western Pacific Region.
Its objectives were to discuss strategies, challenges, and plan to strengthen the smoke-free campaign in different tourist spots and promote this campaign as an integral part of tourism.
Vice Minister of Health of Viet Nam Nguyen Viet Tien delivered his opening speech at the 6th Regional Meeting of Smoke-Free Cities in the Asia-Pacific region
Addressing the meeting, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien, member of the management council of the Fund for Tobacco Harms Prevention and Control, said that in Viet Nam, the building of smoke-free tourism cities began in Hoi An city in 2009, and it has been expanded to some other cities like Ha Long, Hue, Nha Trang, and Hai Phong. In these cities, smoking has been banned firstly at restaurants, hotels, tourist sites, workplaces, schools and hospitals. Creating a smoke-free tourism environment has helped not only promote their green and beautiful tourism images in foreign visitors’ eyes but also protect people’s health, he noted. Vice Minister added aside from famous tourist destination cities, such efforts have also been made across Vietnam. Hundreds of thousands of no-smoking signs and posters have been placed at attractions, workplaces, hospitals, and schools. This regulation is also shown on bulletin boards or entrance tickets at tourist sites. Activities to promote smoke-free cities have also been carried out at cultural, sports and tourism events, including the Asian Beach Games in Da Nang city, the Do Temple Festival in Bac Ninh province, or the Vietnam – Japan cultural exchange in Hoi An.
In the meeting, SEATCA recognized the smoke-free efforts of the different heritage sites highlighting their experiences and best practices in declaring and maintaining the smoke-free campaigns in their areas. Some of the heritage sited that received technical assistance from SEATCA to launch and maintain their smoke-free campaign are Angkor in Cambodia, Borobudur and Prambanan Temple Compounds in Indonesia, Malacca and Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, Luang Prabang and Vat Phou, Champasak in Lao PDR, the Ancient Town of Hoi An and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam including a known tourist spot of Pindaya Caves in Myanmar.
Viet Nam’s Delegation and ASEAN tobacco control partners at the 6th Regional Meeting of Smoke-Free Cities in the Asia-Pacific region
Recognizing the importance of protecting heritage sites from fires and smoke damage due to smoking of tobacco and indiscriminate discarding of cigarette butts and the importance of protecting all people within these sites from the hazards of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, conservation authorities should develop and enforce a strong and comprehensive policy to prevent and reduce tobacco-caused damages in order to preserve their cultural and natural values as well as protect staff and visitors from diseases and untimely death.
In addition to giving a healthy environment for citizens and tourists, the smoke-free campaign was said to also help protect the heritage sites from fires and smoke damage caused by smoking and the indiscriminate discarding of cigarette butts.
To apply smoke-free tourism, the authorities were encouraged to develop and enforce a strong and comprehensive policy related to smoking in heritage sites.