SEATCA cites Davao as model smoke-free city

The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) gave a plaque of appreciation to Davao City not only for its anti-smoking policy but also for the efficient implementation of such policy during the two-day Regional Workshop on Smoke-Free Laws which opened at the SM Convention Center in Lanang Monday.

SEATCA is an alliance of various sectors coming from ten Asian countries that aims to help the member-countries fast track and establish tobacco control policies.

“We have an eight-country (Asian) delegate to this Workshop hoping to learn from Davao City’s successful implementation of its smoke-free city campaign for many years,” SEATCA director Bungon Ritthiphakdee said in an interview. Other cities have good laws and policies on smoking control but the problem is the implementation, she added.

She said the different countries have different regulations when it comes to controlling smoking. Others follow the national law which they implement in the local or city level, she said, and this is where the problem starts in implementing it at the city level.

“What Davao can share to the other countries is its 100 percent implementation of smoke-free public places,” she said. Asian countries also implement the smoke-free policy in hospitals, schools and workplace, she said, but the challenge is how to implement it in the restaurants, nightclubs and outdoor public places.

The Asian countries can learn from Davao’s mechanisms, legislative measures, manpower, political will and how media supported the smoke-free policy.

“Even in Thailand we have a strong tobacco-control law but the problem is how to enforce it in restaurants and nightclubs,” she said. Even the policemen in charge of implementing the law do not have a good standard of practice, she said.

Ritthiphakdee said Davao will be a very good model and leader for the smoke-free cities campaign. The key issue here, she said, is that Davao started the smoke-free city campaign a long time ago but the compliance and enforcement are still there even up to now.

In other Asian cities, she added, the campaign is no longer enforced after two or three years. But in Davao, she said, it is being enforced year after year and we are amazed at the commitment of the business owners, public officers and the citizens.

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