Promote healthier campuses with fresh air for all

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  • After launching a smoke-free campaign in October, the University of Yangon has declared itself a smoke-free campus this year.
    Of the 18 universities offering courses in medicine under the Ministry of Health and Sports, 10 have been designated as smoke-free. Encouraged by the success of Dagon, Mandalay Yadanabon, and Dawei varsities, under the Ministry of Education, in their initiative to promote a healthier campus and reduce tobacco consumption and smoke, other universities have initiated smoke-free policies on their campuses.
    The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Sports are working together to designate all schools, colleges, and universities across the nation as smoke-free areas. Schools and universities in Yangon Region are expected to be declared smoke-free in 2019.
    The efforts reflect that the Union Government is committed to eliminating known health hazards and promoting healthy habits among students, patients, faculty, and staff.
    Myanmar carried out surveys in 2007 and 2016 to collect data on the consumption of cigarettes, and the two surveys found that 21 per cent of boys and over 2 per cent of girls, aged 13 to 15, smoked. It was also found that one in five boys between the ages of 13 and 15 chewed betel along with tobacco.
    In 2007, just 6.6 per cent of boys between the ages of 13 and 15 smoked cigarettes, but the number had jumped to 15 per cent by 2016.
    Second-hand smoke (SHS) causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
    In Myanmar, 33 percent of women and 20 percent of men are victims of SHS.
    Smoking and tobacco consumption are killing more than 65,000 people every year, which is 17.6 per cent of the mortality rate of the country.
    A law on establishing smoke-free areas in schools and university campuses was enacted in 2006, but while some performed well, some failed to comply with the law. To eliminate smoking in schools and campuses, all, especially faculty members and students, need to obey the policy.
    The Magway University of Medicine has successfully implemented the policy by laying down rules for smoking and non-smoking areas on its campus.
    Cooperation from the regional and state governments, faculty members, and students is sine qua non to achieve the goal within a short time.
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