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Enlarging smoke-free areas might not help

  • Making more places smoke-free might not help reduce the number of chain smokers in the country. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily

PETALING JAYA, June 18 (Sin Chew Daily) -- The health ministry is prepared to make the highway rest stops and more government buildings as smoke-free areas. However, the Malaysian Non-Smokers' Rights Association is of the opinion that enlarge smoke-free areas will not effectively reduce the number of smokers in the country. The association urged the government to tackle the issue of smoking from educating the public since young.

The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) also agrees that making more places smoke-free might not cut down the number of smokers although the move would benefit no-smokers.

A chronic smoker admitted to Sin Chew Daily the government has not worked hard enough to prevent smoking, and that the announcement to enlarge smoke-free areas will not have significant effects.

He said even if smokers are not allowed to smoke in covered areas at highway rest stops, they can always choose to smoke at car parks or open areas.

Govt not working hard enough

He said there are still plenty of places where smokers can puff up a cigarette when compared to neighboring Singapore.For example, smokers can still smoke in public parks and non-air conditioned coffee shops.

"By comparison, Malaysian smokers have a lot more liberty."

He said to stop the public from smoking, the most effective way is to make cigarettes much less affordable, adding that cigarette smuggling should be controlled.

Former Malaysia Council for Tobacco Control secretary-general Shaari Ahmad Junid said the council would meet up with the DBKL to propose making the five major public parks in the city, namely Lake Gardens, Taman Permaisuri, Metropolitan Park, Taman Titiwangsa and Bukit Jalil Park as smoke-free areas.

He told Sin Chew Daily by making more places smoke-free, it would confine the activities of smokers to their own homes.

"The smokers are themselves aware of the harmful effects of cigarettes, but they are just addicted to it. Smokers are not our enemies. We must try to help them quit smoking."

According to a global survey, about 23.1% or 4.7 million Malaysians are smokers, while there is a trend for more smokers in the 12 to 15 years age bracket.

Although the government has launched several anti-smoking campaigns to discourage the public from puffing up in public, such as banning tobacco companies' media promotions, sponsorships and brand events, increasing cigarette prices, setting up more smoke-free areas and banning the sale of cigarettes to minors, among others, the effects have been minimal owing to poor enforcement and persistence.


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