May 9, 2011
(KPL) Xieng Khuang provincial Health Department and provincial hospital have become the first places in the province to be declared smoke-free.
The aim of the smoke-free zones is reduce the health risks for local people in the years to come.
The opening ceremony was witnessed by provincial Deputy Governor Mr Khampien Synouanthong, Office Head of the Ministry of Health Dr Nao Boutta, representatives from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency and other involved organisations.
Xieng Khuang is the fourth area in Laos to declare smoke-free areas after Luang Prabang and Champassak provinces and the capital.
Health officials believe smoke-free areas will help smokers to give up their unhealthy habit and lower the health risks associated with second-hand smoke.
Health officials estimate that more than 4,000 chemical substances are contained in cigarette smoke. These chemicals cause smokers and those around them to be exposed to carcinogens that can cause lung cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and other related illnesses, which can be fatal.
Mr. Khampien, who is President of the Xieng Khuang provincial Tobacco Control Committee, said the smoke-free areas are intended to benefit ailing patients, who have the right to breathe clean and fresh air.
Declaring the provincial Health Department as smoke-free serves to implement Article 37 of the Law on Tobacco Control, which prohibits smoking in healthcare facilities and centres of education.
The declaration allows the department to become a model for other government institutions.
This includes raising awareness of the hazards of smoking and preventing people from taking up the habit in the first place.
Health officials are also confident that smoke-free areas will ensure that the general population is healthier.