Thailand - health authorities want to close smoking areas at airport..

November 9, 2010 - Health authorities are pressing ahead with a plan to close all smoking areas at Suvarnabhumi airport's international terminal. The ban is in keeping with a ministerial regulation which prohibits smoking in public places, including airports.

The Office of the Tobacco Control Committee will work with Airports of Thailand Plc to put the Public Health Ministry regulation into practice.

The airport has 18 smoking rooms for international passengers.

The ministry in June closed all smoking rooms in the domestic passengers' area at Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in line with the ban.

The president of the Health Promotion Institute, Hatai Chitanondh, said studies show that airport smoking areas expose non-smokers in adjacent non-smoking areas to significant concentrations of nicotine vapour. Similar smoking room bans have been imposed at some international airports in Europe.

Those who wish to smoke still have the option to do so outside the building, Dr Hatai said.

Narongchai Tanadchangsaeng, deputy general manager of Suvarnabhumi airport, is worried that travellers will choose to bypass the airport if they cannot smoke inside the terminal.

Dr Hatai, however, believed the smoke-free policy would improve Suvarnabhumi's competitiveness with other airports. "Most passengers opt for nicotine patches to get their fix," he said.

Reference: Last gasp for airport puffers International terminal could bar smokers, Bangkok Post, 11/8/2010.

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- Thailand is a member of Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA)..