Cambodia’s Buddhist monks, dragged last year into the front line of the southeast Asian nation’s fight against smoking, are proving surprisingly adept at kicking the habit, campaigners said on Friday.
About a thousand saffron-robed monks were urged 12 months ago to quit smoking in a bid to get the general public in deeply impoverished Cambodia to follow suit.
Of that trial group, only 13 percent have lit up again, a very impressive level of abstinence, said Yel Daravuth of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency.
The United States-funded missionary group now wants to roll out its smoke-free monks project across the rest of Cambodia, where around a third of monks and two thirds of the male population are avowed puffers.
“The monks act as role models in society,” said Yel Daravuth. “We found that if monks quit, most laypeople said they would be prepared to quit as well, so we are targeting as many monks as possible to give up smoking.”
The guinea-pig monks even took saliva tests to prove they were not lying about not smoking. “Only two were cheating,” Yel Daravuth said.
And the secret of their success? Many hours of meditation, he said.
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