Smoking will be banned in parts of 33 Yangon Region townships over the next five years, state media reported this week. The move aims to reduce tobacco consumption within the city.
“Secondhand smoke has the same harmful chemicals that smokers inhale. It is miserable that non-smokers suffer diseases owing to harmful effects of secondhand smoke exhaled by smokers,” said Dr. Thein Swe, vice chair of the People’s Health Foundation, told the Global New Light of Myanmar.
Downtown Yangon will be prioritized for the creation of smoke-free zones, with Kyauktada Township to be the first. The neighborhood, which includes City Hall and Sule Pagoda, will have 114 smoke-free zones by the end of 2018.
The zones will include 40 government buildings, 35 religious sites, 24 hotels and guesthouses, seven schools, three shopping centers, three cinemas, and one public hospital. Universities and private schools with over 1,000 students may also be added to the list of smoke-free zones.
The implementation of the smoke-free initiative will be carried out by a committee that will include city council members, local lawmakers, and staff from relevant government departments. The committee will also launch awareness campaigns, publish anti-smoking pamphlets, and grant certificates to businesses that ban smoking on their premises.
The smoking bans will be enforced through surprise inspections every three months.
The Global New Light reports that US$100,000 in funding for Yangon’s smoke-free initiative will come from US-based charities Vital Strategies and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The state-run newspaper cited statistics that smoking rates have risen in Myanmar from 33.6 percent of men and 6.1 percent of women in 2009 to 41.4 percent of men and 8.4 percent of women in 2014.