Chiangrai Times – In 1991, 60 per cent of men in Thailand were smokers. Since then, the country has introduced some of south-east Asia’s toughest smoking laws, with significant success. They include tax increases on cigarettes, advertising bans, clean air laws and health warnings.
Thailand bans smoking in all air conditioned buildings, fines non-compliant smokers, mandates that cigarette packs carry graphic pictures and warnings and bans tobacco companies from advertising on local radio and television, in newspapers and magazines, on billboards, in shops and on the internet.
The government, which estimates more than 48,000 Thais die from smoking-related illnesses each year, announced it is strengthening the punishment for violation of smoking laws to include the revocation of business licenses and even heavier fines.
Thailand has had some success, but still has a way to go. The World Health Organization says in 2011, 45.6 per cent of adult Thai men still smoke, and just over 3 per cent of women.
The lowest smoking rate in south-east Asia is in Singapore, where 25.2 per cent of men and 4.2 per cent of women smoke, according to the World Health Organization.
But only tentative efforts to reduce smoking have been made in other south-east Asia countries.
In East Timor, tobacco companies sponsor youth street soccer tournaments while smoke fills restaurants and hotel lobbies.
In the Philippines, where the smoking rate is 47.6 per cent for men and 9 per cent for women, the President, Benigno Aquino, is moving to introduce a new “sin tax” on alcohol and cigarettes, which have prompted fierce opposition from tobacco companies, led by Philip Morris-Fortune Tobacco Corp.
“What is important is that our legislators are (also) open to hearing the side of stakeholders like the farmers, the workers, the consumers and small manufacturers,” Chris Nelson, the company’s president told reporters recently.
Bungon Rittiphakdee, director of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, said the world’s toughest labelling laws, set to take effect in Australia, prepares the path for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to stand up to tobacco companies.
Smoking in Asia: A Looming Health Epidemic
AsianScientist (Aug. 22, 2012) – All across Asia countries are bucking gloomy global economic trends with positive growth, a phenomenon also observed in its smoking rates. While smokers in the West are stubbing out for good, increasing numbers in Asia are lighting up…….Read More