KUALA LUMPUR: To deter cigarette smoking, the Health Ministry conducted a Nafas Baru (New Breath) campaign during the recent Ramadan.
In a statement, the Health Ministry said Nafas Baru was in line with their longstanding Tak Nak Merokok campaign and involved the distribution and dissemination of anti-smoking material to the public.
The ministry also said that Malaysia, as a signatory since 2005 to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) — a legal tool developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) — is bound to its 38 provisions covering the provisions for tobacco supply and control measures.
“In a committed effort to abide by the provisions of the FCTC since its ratification six years ago, almost all the provisions have been or are in the process of being carried out by the government,” said the ministry.
“A study conducted over the last five years showed that Malaysia is believed to have spent over RM3 billion per year treating just three tobacco-related illnesses, namely, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”
Among the actions taken were the implementation of Malaysia Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 which makes advertisements, sponsorships or promotions by tobacco companies illegal.
Under the regulations, designated no-smoking areas are increased from time to time, and minors are prohibited from selling, possessing or smoking tobacco products.
Other provisions enforced are ensuring that health and public policies are free from the influence of the tobacco industry, raising the price of tobacco and tobacco-related products in order to decrease demand for such items, and making it compulsory for tobacco manufacturers to carry warning labels featuring gruesome results of smoking.
The ministry also continually carries out educational campaigns through the mass media.
Infolines and services in local health clinics and hospitals aimed at helping those addicted to smoking were also provided.
Also, interventions throughout all levels of the community and programmes specifically targeting school children have been regularly held.
According to WHO statistics, more than five million people in the world will die from tobacco smoking-related illnesses this year. This does not include 600,000 non-smokers, 150,000 of them children, who will die from exposure to tobacco smoke.
In the 20th century, smoking claimed 100 million lives nationwide. In the 21st century, the number of such casualties is estimated to reach one billion.
A National Health and Morbidity Survey conducted in 2006 showed that 21.5 per cent, or roughly three million
adults, in Malaysia are smokers.
Smoking fines reap RM1m
SMOKING in non-smoking areas made up more than half of the compounds issued nationwide by the Health Ministry from January to April this year relating to the Malaysia Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004.
During the four months, the ministry issued 4,475 compounds with fines totalling RM999,125. Of this, 2,527 were for smoking in non-smoking areas such as government offices, public transportation vehicles and public transport facilities.
Included in the other compounds were for minors caught smoking or possessing tobacco products (1,198), premise owners who failed to display anti-smoking signs (331), selling tobacco below the floor price (187) and selling individual cigarettes from open packets (201). And for not settling compounds, 1,635 have been brought to court.
The ministry said 2,158 operations were carried out nationwide in the first four months of this year, and this covered 25,498 premises.