Novel ways to advance protection from exposure to tobacco smoke: the launch of the Smoke-free Zone Certification Program Guide

By Rasha Bader

As the world marked World No Tobacco Day 2016, King Hussein Cancer Foundation and Center (KHCF/KHCC) and The Global Smoke-free Worksite Challenge (GSWC) launched the Smoke-free Zone Certification Program Guide.

The Guide serves as a tool to assist in launching and running a program that motivates and rewards voluntary compliance with smoke-free policies. It presents frameworks for understanding the status quo, selecting certification criteria, and developing compliance verification methods. It then details the components of the certification process and the necessary tools, arrangements, and manpower. The Guide further discusses activities necessary to publicize results, promote certified smoke-free institutions, and use the opportunity to create general awareness of the need for protection from exposure to tobacco smoke. Throughout, the Guide presents the experience of Jordan as a successful example.

The motivation for developing and issuing the Guide stemmed from the success that KHCF/KHCC achieved with the Smoke-free Zone Certification Program (SFZC). Realizing that Jordan lags in terms of protection from exposure to tobacco smoke, KHCF/KHCC have been creating parallel routes to incentivize employers to go smoke-free, culminating in 2013 in the launch of the SFZC. The program aims to recognize local organizations that voluntarily pursue and enforce smoke-free environments and enlist them as advocates for enforcement of smoke-free laws. Over three years, the program gained traction and evolved into a national accomplishment. Starting with only 40 applicants in its first round, the program has received 418 applications to date and certified a total of 244 organizations.

Emphasizing that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke, Article 8 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control addresses effective measures to provide protection from exposure to tobacco smoke in public places. Yet, today less than 20 percent of the world’s population is fully protected through smoke-free policies, with developing countries lagging well behind developed countries. It is thus imperative that NGOs play a central role in building support for and ensuring compliance with smoke free measures. Thus, the Guide provides interested NGOs with a tested framework to support their efforts.