ASEAN Secretariat HQ declared 100 pct smoke-free building

ASEAN Secretariat HQ declared 100 pct smoke-free building

Surin Pitsuwan. (ANTARA)

"The ASEAN secretariat`s leadership by example isn`t merely symbolic."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) sets a healthy example for the rest of the region, by declaring its own headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, officially smoke-free.

ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, personally led the unveiling of the official "Smoke-free" signage at the lobby of the ASEAN headquarters here, Wednesday, the ASEAN Secretariat said a press statement Thursday.

"ASEAN Secretariat as a Smoke-free Working Environment, calls on all staff and visitors to the headquarters to strictly observe and enforce the `no-smoking` policy in all rooms, toilets, lobby, and passageways, for the health, safety and welfare of everyone working in the ASEAN Secretariat Building," he said.

Ahead of the ceremonies to launch a "Smoke-Free ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC)," regional tobacco-control advocates are congratulating the ASEAN leadership for "a determined and progressive stance that unequivocally expresses where the region`s governments should stand with respect to curbing tobacco use."

Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) Director Bungon Ritthiphakdee, on behalf of the alliance of tobacco control advocates from around the region said, "The ASEAN secretariat`s leadership by example isn`t merely symbolic. It follows through on a commitment and is concrete in action."

The ASEC Health and Communicable Diseases Division with the support of SEATCA and WHO, wants to strengthen the implementation of the ASEAN Secretary-General`s memorandum on Smoke-free Working Environments.

Dr. Surin had issued a memorandum for a smoke-free ASEAN Secretariat as early as 2009, but the ceremony today is intended to build momentum and formally introduce the ASEAN Secretariat to the international community as a smoke-free building.

Last March 2012, he introduced the Smoke-free ASEAN campaign: "10 countries, 1 vision: A Smoke-Free ASEAN," at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Singapore.

He said, "ASEAN, through the ASEAN Focal Points on Tobacco Control (AFPTC) works by protecting public health policies from being interfered by those who want to campaign to increase the sales of their deadly products".

In 2009, the AFPTC was developed as a mechanism for the ASEAN cooperation in tobacco control, during the Preparatory Meeting of ASEAN Senior Officials on Health Development for the 9th ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting (PrepSOMHD for 9th AHMM).

"Six hundred million people of Southeast Asia are rejoicing with the accomplishments set forth by the ASEC in bringing good health, clean environments and empowered nations in the hands of the ASEAN," Ritthiphakdee added.