The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) on Tuesday said it strongly supported Thailand’s move to ban smoking inside the passenger terminals of all its airports, in order to protect employees and non-smoking travellers from exposure to second-hand smoke.
On February 3, Airports of Thailand removed all smoking rooms inside the airports of Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai and Mae Fah Luang.
This was in line with the Tobacco Products Control Act of 2017 and the Public Health Ministry announcement last year that required offices of government agencies and state enterprises, including airports, to declare no-smoking areas to protect non-smokers.
Those caught violating the new laws will be fined up to Bt5,000.
“We are very pleased with this news and we urge the government to monitor compliance and strictly impose the penalty,” said Dr Domilyn Villarreiz, manager of SEATCA’s Smoke-free Programme.
“Studies have shown that second-hand smoke can transfer from designated smoking areas into non-smoking areas in airports, where non-smoking travellers and employees can be exposed.
“In addition to subjecting non-smoking travellers who pass through these areas to involuntary second-hand smoke exposure, designated or ventilated smoking areas can also result in involuntary exposure of airport employees who are required to enter these areas or work near them,” she said.
“Tourism is an important driver for the Thai economy. Successful tourism relies not only on available and efficient tourism infrastructure such as airports and other transportation facilities, but also on a healthy and welcoming environment.
“This is a big move for Thailand, considering it is frequented by 39 million international tourists annually. This is not only good for the environment, but ultimately good for people’s health and the economy,” Villarreiz added.
Meanwhile, cigarettes and other tobacco products are still being sold in the same terminals in the duty-free areas.