Smoke-free champion shares story on 50% reduction of street smoking in Shizuoka
WKC public seminar
15 January 2011 | Kobe - On Saturday, Yuhta Ohishi, an 18 year-old from Shizuoka, shared his story of combating second-hand smoke at a public seminar hosted by the WHO Centre for Health Development (WKC), “How to make your city smoke free”. At the age of nine, affected by asthma and the ill-effects of second-hand smoke, Ohishi began his campaign to prevent smoking in public spaces. After receiving 24 000 signatures of support, and meeting with the mayor and other public officials, the city of Shizuoka signed an ordinance in July 2006 to ban smoking in several streets of the city. Last week in the Shizuoka shimbun, the city announced a 50% reduction in the violations of people smoking in the streets, signaling the ordinance is having an effect in the city.
The Director of the Centre, Dr Jacob Kumaresan highlighted the Centre’s drive to put health and urbanization on the global agenda, and the importance of the role communities and individuals, such as Yuhta Ohishi, can play. Ms Mina Kashiwabara from WKC then shared with the audience the existing smoke-free ordinances in Japan. To date, over 100 cities have a public ban on smoking in the streets.
Dr Francisco Armada shared the Centre’s research on the Smoke-Free Cities Project. Despite WHO’s efforts to combat tobacco use, notably the first international health treaty signed by 172 countries (The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control), only 5% of the world’s population are fully protected from second-hand smoke. “That’s why effective action requires not only interventions at the national level, but at the community level,” stated Dr Armada. Efforts must reinforce each other to fight the tobacco epidemic. Local governments play an equally important role. “It’s also an easy place for the community and all sectors like local law enforcement, agriculture, education, and planning to come together to take action,” he continued.
Based on the important role of local governments, the WHO Kobe Centre has launched the Smoke-Free Cities project with colleagues in Geneva and with the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) in Japan. The purpose of the project is to gather evidence on different actions cities are taking to reduce the effects of second-hand smoke and also to prepare recommendations for other cities in enacting smoke-free laws. These recommendations were developed into the 12 steps to make your city smoke- free. For those cities interested in adopting smoke-free laws, a model ordinance is also available to help them get started.
The WHO Centre for Health Development will hold more health seminars throughout 2011 to share its research and the impact of its work on the health of all urban dwellers. The next seminar will be held from 14:00-16:00 on 4 March, entitled “Social inequity and mental health” at the WHO Centre for Health Development. The seminar will be in Japanese and is open to the public.