Laos’ famed historic city Luang Prabang has become the first UNESCO World Heritage city to ban smoking in public places, citing health concerns and fears of stray cigarettes burning down the city’s historic monuments
Spotted in today’s Bangkok Post:
“Luang Prabang has become the first World Heritage city to ban smoking in public places.
Eye-catching red and white posters, stickers and mobiles carrying anti-smoking messages both in English and Lao have been put up in every corner, from tourist attractions like the historic Xiangthong temple to accommodation and retail shops of this serene city on the Mekong River in Laos since May 30, World No Tobacco Day.
Apart from health reasons, Luang Prabang residents believe the smoke-free policy will enable them to better conserve the city’s historic sites, such as the huen moradok, or colonial-style mansions that were built when the country was still under French rule.
Scientific studies have found that cigarettes appear to pose as much danger to the historic landmarks as human health.
The city’s residents say some of the ancient buildings have been reduced to ashes over the past few years in cigarette-related fire accidents caused by the carelessness of smokers, who had dropped burning cigarette butts on the floor and ignited the fires.” [read the full story]
Smoking is still widespread in South East Asia and laws are quite lax about its promotion and pricing, so this is a pretty radical departure. The article goes on to say that guesthouses and restaurants will be asked to provide smoke free zones, although it doesn’t say if this is mandatory, so if smoking bothers you, best check with your guesthouse about what arrangements they have.