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Cambodia: smoke-free pagoda

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Few countries provide as much freedom for the tobacco industry as Cambodia, but a growing movement among Buddhist monks promises to be a strong influence on the community and government as well as a unique challenge for the industry. Monks say that Buddha's teachings do not mention tobacco, but they do preach abstinence from harmful substances. Smoking prevalence among monks may be higher than 60%, but they have only recently started to become aware that smoking is addictive and harmful. Quit programmes at pagodas have resulted in over 80% success rates after one year. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Cambodia initiated the first “Tobacco or Health” programmes in Cambodia some three years ago. Programmes continue to grow, in collaboration with the ministries of health, education, and cults and religion.

Tobacco Free Buddhist monks in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, outside their pagoda, pronounced smoke-free earlier this year.

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