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Last year, 2006, ended with new restrictions on smoking in public places in Thailand, including in transport stations, public parks, at bus stops and in telephone booths. Although there are some places where smoking is still permitted, 36 specific types of location have had smoking prohibited or restricted. There has been heightened activity for smoke-free places through world no tobacco day and the second conference (COP 2) of the parties of the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) took place in Bangkok in the summer. Thailand's Dr Hatai Chitanondh was selected as the new conference president to preside over COP 3, to be held in South Africa in 2008.
Despite impressive achievements in 2006 and 2007, next year promises new opportunities, with smoking cessation and tobacco control research the areas likely to get special attention. While Thailand has made rapid tobacco control progress through legislation and regulatory policies, it has been unable to take advantage of the restrictions on public smoking or the research information available because of a lack of infrastructure for population-based cessation and science-based collaborative research.
Fortunately, the new Thai health professionals alliance against tobacco brings prospects for progress in these areas. Aided by the new tobacco control research and knowledge management centre of Mahidol University, this alliance of nine health professional groups has been working to build capacity in these areas. Plans are under way for a national smoking cessation “quitline” system. In addition, new opportunities for nicotine and tobacco research are on the horizon through the first Asian regional conference of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, SRNT Bangkok 2008, scheduled for 28–31 October.
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