Saturday, February 11, 2006

Public Health Ministry leads ministries to enforce smoking, drinking bans

Public Health Ministry leads ministries to enforce smoking, drinking bans
BANGKOK, Feb 10 (TNA) - Thailand's Ministry of Public Health has moved to strictly enforce its ban on smoking and drinking in ministry premises starting Friday. Violators of the ban, especially ministryofficials, are subject to heavy penalties.Twenty government ministries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) last month effectively banning the use of tobacco on government premises -- except for specially-designated smoking areas.
Hundreds of banners stating "Smoking Prohibited" are seen throughout the public health ministry headquarters in suburban Nonthaburi province -- inside buildings, toilets, corridors, and even lawns andgarden areas -- which have all been made smok-free zones, let alone restaurants and food shops where the sale of cigarettes and alcoholic drinks are now totally prohibited.Smokers who cannot give up their die-hard habits are provided smoking areas at the corner of some buildings, similar to those at airports.Public Health Minister Pinij Jarusombat, chairing a meeting of ministry officials Friday afternoon, stressed that all ministry employees must strictly follow the non-smoking policy in prohibited areas, and that those who violate the ban will face highest penalties stated in the law."Outsiders who enter the ministry premises must follow the rules," Mr. Pinij said. "If anyone smokes in the prohibited areas, they will immediately be asked to leave the ministry."In tandem with the smoking ban, the strict prohibition alcohol at ministry premises was strictly enforced as well. The sale or consumption of alcoholic drinks is strictly prohibited, the minister said. Regardless of the nature of the celebration, only juices, soft drinks or water are allowed to be served."It's a big clean up, starting today, to make the ministry free from anything hazardous to health," he said.Mr. Pinij said the strict enforcement of the smoking and drinking ban imposed by the public health ministry would be the example for other ministries to apply as the model.

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