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Monk uses Buddhist teachings to combat smoking

Respected members of society like monks can be important role models in drug control to address the problem of tobacco use in schools and educational institutes.
Laos rates the second highest in Asean countries for smoking related deaths, with tobacco use considered to be the main contributor to premature mortality at an estimated 4,807 deaths per year or 13 people per day.
Of course, many would say that the issue of drug control and tobacco is not a problem for monks to solve but rather a problem for society.

PhaAchanBounyard explains the success of his project on tobacco control and other drugs in schools.

However, the Abbot of Nakyai temple, PhaAchanBounyard is not surprised that Buddhist teachings can prove a successful way to reduce smoking rates among students.
This is reinforced by the many smoke-free zones in schools and around temples and Buddhist places of devotion.
He uses Buddhist teachings to explain the danger of smoking to students in schools and boasts success in disseminating information for public benefit.
PhaAchanBounyard is an active monk who has worked hard to use the teachings of the Buddha to educate against drug use and for positive social development over a long period of time already.
As such he is a person that other people can honour and take to be an example. 
Recently,  PhaAchanBounyard gave an interview  to Vientiane Times on his successful foray into promotion of tobacco control project by using Buddhist  teaching  and the Buddhist poems to mark World No Tobacco Day on May 31.
Q:   What is the main activity of your project on tobacco control?
A:    We will give the Buddhist poem that explains the dangers of intoxication. After, we will have the competition between students at every school reciting the Buddhist poems.
 Finally, the winners will receive gifts. There are bicycles, books and more. These gifts are offered thanks to the generous support of people in society.
Q: Why do you have the war on smoking at school?
A: Regulations advocate against smoking, with the aim of making schools completely smoke free.
The smoke-free campaign is being led by and the Vientiane Health Department to ensure that all students avoid smoking and the use of other drugs from the schools because the students are the future of the nation.
Q:  Why are you creating smoke-free temples?
 A:  At present, more and more locations are smoke-free zones as the capital sets out to be an anti-tobacco model for districts around the nation. This includes temples because they are a sacred area for all devotees.
Alone the government will not be able to solve all drug problems including smoking in the schools. Tobacco and other drug use are both problems of society. 
We can help by assisting to change people’s behaviour by fully implementing smoke-free zones by 2020 according to the health policy of the Ministry of Health. 
Q:  What do students have benefit from the project?
A: Students at these schools learn that smoking has a negative impact on both the economy and people's health and savings. We checked student knowledge by way of a questionnaire and brainstorming session. The students divided into groups to brainstorm ideas on ensuring their schools can stay smoke-free. They know smoking can cause various cancers and secondhand smokers can also develop lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, other chronic diseases and aortic aneurysm. Of course, smoking can also cause pregnant women to give birth prematurely.
Q:  How many schools are members of this project?
A:   It is considered successful as more and more students are showing an interest in these activities.
This project started in 2015. At the time there were six schools as members of a tobacco control network.
The network members raised awareness about the dangers of smoking for both smokers and secondhand smokers.
Six target schools were announced in 2015 as Phiavat, Salakham, Nongbone, Viengsavanh, Thatkhao, Sinxay and Thongpong .
About 20 primary schools and lower secondary schools participated in Vientiane in 2016.

By PhetphoxaySengpaseuth
(Latest Update June 1, 2017)

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