Leaders come together for the 4th APCAT Summit on Tobacco Control

The 4th Asia Pacific Cities Alliance for Tobacco Control and NCDs Prevention (APCAT) Summit was attended by more than 200 delegates from 12 countries in the Asia Pacific region and provided a platform for knowledge exchange and the sharing of best practice and actions to combat the tobacco epidemic in the region. The delegation included Mayors, Governors, Members of Parliament, high level national and subnational government officials, representative from civil society, academics and the media.

Recognising that subnational leaders play a key role in the health development agenda, APCAT aims to build stronger political commitments and new partnership opportunities to strengthen public health systems and protect people from the harms of tobacco.

“Tobacco control is a political choice,” said Dr Tara Singh Bam, Deputy Director for the Asia Pacific region at The Union.  “Strong subnational leadership will ensure effective measures of tobacco control by identifying local solutions to local problems in the region.”

Held on 25-26 September in Bogor, Indonesia, APCAT recognised its host city as the first city in Indonesia to implement a smoking ban in public places, a ban on tobacco product displays at point-of-sale, and other tobacco products such as e-cigarettes. The city is a pioneering example of how strong leadership can pave the way for a world free from tobacco-related disease.

In many countries in Asia Pacific, however, tobacco control laws are poorly enforced. The public health community battles constantly with a tobacco industry that targets young people and actively attempts to weaken public health policy in order to protect its commercial interests.

With this in mind, APCAT was established in 2016 by The Union as a network and forum for subnational leaders working to advance tobacco control in the region.

APCAT has two co-chairs, Dr Bima Arya Sugiarto, Mayor of Bogor City, Indonesia and Francis Anthony S Garcia, Mayor of Balanga City, Philippines. Under their leadership, APCAT has been joined by 40 cities from 12 countries, united by their shared vision to create tobacco-free environments.

APCAT is supported by Ministries of Health in Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Lao PDR and Nepal; Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Union. The Union Asia Pacific office in Singapore is the permanent secretariat.