The Apsara Authority, on behalf of the Angkor Archaeological Park, on Wednesday accepted a Smoke-Free Heritage Award from the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (Seatca) and the World Health Organisation based in the Asia-Pacific region.
The award was presented during a workshop to advance the campaign to make Siem Reap a smoke-free city.
The event, held at the Apsara Palace Hotel, was attended by Ministry of Tourism undersecretary of state Hor Saron and Seatca representative Dr Domilyn Villarreiz.
The award follows the Apsara Authority’s successful efforts to increase public awareness of the issue, emphasise the detrimental impact on the temples and transform Angkor Archaeological Park into a smoke-free zone.
Speaking to more than 100 participants from relevant organisations that promote health and smoke-free environments, Villarreiz praised the authority for maintaining Angkor Archaeological Park and its offices as smoke-free.
“This achievement is one reason why we spread Angkor to the world. Like many other tourist destinations around the world, the area is smoke-free."
“This prize is ‘just rewards’ for the efforts that the Apsara Authority has taken to fulfil its commitment to making Angkor a smoke-free area and continue to strengthen the work of promoting the environment.”
Apsara Authority director-general Hang Pov said he was delighted and honoured that the authority had received the award.
The accomplishment was made, he said, through the participation of Siem Reap Provincial Hospital, the Department of Environment, the Ministry of Health, health care organisations and other stakeholders.
“Through this award, the Apsara Authority will continue its task of expanding the smoke-free zone,” Pov said.
Saron said he welcomed and applauded the Apsara Authority’s efforts to transform Angkor Archaeological Park – the “heart of Cambodia” – into a smoke-free area.
He said that in October 2019, Siem Reap will host the 7th Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting on Smoke-Free Environments. “This is an honour for Siem Reap which can attract more tourists to Angkor,” he said.
Apsara Authority spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Thursday that great effort had been made by relevant authorities to enforce the smoking ban when tourists visit the temples.
“Most importantly, if the authorities had not widely communicated the policy, the implementation would have failed. So it was very important to communicate, publish and share information to educate tourists and people who live in the area,” he said.
An Apsara Authority Facebook post on Thursday said that according to a report issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately seven million people die every year because of smoking – six million smokers and 860,000 people who inhale second-hand smoke – while some $1.4 billion is lost due to smoking-related causes such as medical treatment and loss of labour.
In Cambodia, according to the WHO, nearly 10,000 people die every year due to smoking – nearly 30 people per day.