Anti-smoking laws not enforced?
After visiting Thailand for many years I welcomed the news that with effect
from February 2008 Thailand has further extended a national ban on smoking
in public areas to include pubs, restaurants, discos and market-places, both
open-air and air-conditioned. That sounds great but the actual fact is
no-one seems to be taking any notice of the new law. This week I am in
Chiangmai with my children. In hotel lobbies there are no smoking signs but
in a pub I visited there were people sat at the bar smoking, and also in the
dining areas. The owner told me that police are not enforcing the new law.
Apparently about 20% of smoking deaths are due to passive smoking each year;
the enforcement of such bans is paramount in the protection of workplaces
and the workers therein and the patrons alike. If you have these new laws
then educate the licensees and enforce your laws.
The next evening we visited a restaurant - same thing - a table of Thais lit
up, there are ash trays on the tables, we left early. Thailand can only
benefit from more tourists visiting the country in the knowledge that the
entertainment areas will be completely smoke free. Reading the Chiang Mai
Mail, I see tourism bookings are down 20% because of the ‘haze’ and HM the
King is concerned at the air quality in the North.
Use and enforce your new laws or abandon them. You are entitled to sit in a
public place without breathing someone’s carcinogens.
No smoking - clean air - It’s good for business and health. Please go fix
Smog? Where was the
Wednesday’s Post quotes Chiang Mai’s Vice Governor indicating pollution
levels of PM 10 cancer causing particles in Chiang Mai, resulting from
forest burning, were not of concern. Readings taken Tuesday at a school in
the centre of town at 86 microgrammes per cubic metre of air seem to confirm
this. Readers wondering why “safe” pollution levels seem to apply in Chiang
Mai, while in neighboring Mae Hong Sorn province the air is carcinogenic,
might like to know that on Monday afternoon a violent ,smog clearing,
thunderstorm with torrential rain and gale force winds hit just 10
kilometres north of Chiang Mai, town allowing blue sky to appear.
The day before, a Sunday morning, when our normally well informed Vice
Governor may not have been on duty, the government liason officer on the
smoke pollution problem informed a citizens meeting that the PM 10 level was
140, 20 above the “safe” level. Later that day three fires were set on
nearby Doi Suthep and two helicopters worked for two hours to douse the
flames, the smoke from the blaze presumably worsening the problem. By
Wednesday two days after the rain, visibility and presumably pollution
levels, had returned to their normal toxic levels.
On Tuesday, during a brief trip north to Fang I saw blackened roadsides and
fires burning along the Ping River Gorge and on Doi Luang Chang Dao, just as
they had the previous week, but no sign of red shirted firemen or
helicopters fighting fires there.
Now it is suggested that artificial rain making may ease the problem.
Perhaps our officials need to apply a bit of statistical accuracy in their
reporting to higher authority. If they do so they will perhaps admit that
rain making, when it works at all, works to move precipitation a few minutes
of longitude, robbing say Tak to pay Chiang Mai. Forest fire brings great
public health and environmental costs and if we are to take it seriously we
need to get our heads out of the clouds and many feet on the ground where
the arsonists are at work.