ASEAN headquarters declared '100% smoke free'

PHOTO: ASEAN headquarters declared '100% smoke free'

SINGAPORE - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) announced that it will be declaring its own headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, officially smoke-free.

This is in order to set a healthy example for the rest of the region, it said.

The vision for a smoke-free ASEAN secretariat was raised as early as 2009, but the "Smoke-Free ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC)" ceremony held on Wednesday is intended to formally introduce the ASEAN Secretariat to the international community as a smoke-free building.

Under the memorandum, all staff and visitors to the headquarters are to strictly observe and enforce the "No-smoking" policy in all rooms, toilets, lobbies and passageways.

The move by ASEAN was lauded by regional tobacco-control advocates as "a determined and progressive stance that unequivocally expresses where the region's governments should stand with respect to curbing tobacco use," said the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA).

SEATCA Director Bungon Ritthiphakdee, on behalf of the alliance of tobacco control advocates from around the region, told reporters that "the ASEAN secretariat's leadership by example isn't merely symbolic. It follows through on a commitment and is concrete in action."

On Wednesday, ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan personally led the unveiling of the official "Smoke-free" signage at the lobby of the ASEAN headquarters.

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