Malaysia: Rewards for being smoke-free

BLUE-RIBBON AWARDS: Health Ministry to recognise firms, individuals who discourage smoking

PETALING JAYA: THE Health Ministry will acknowledge owners, businesses, organisations, corporations, community leaders and individuals who initiate a smoke-free environment by awarding them Blue Ribbon Awards.

Premises that implement a smoke-free environment, either indoors or outdoors, will receive a certificate for their contribution.

Electronic and print media which promote smoke-free awareness will also win awards for their effort.

An outstanding achievement award will also be given to advocates of smoke-free areas in its campaign entitled “My right to clean air’.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said second-hand smoke was a hazard and smoking diseases were on the rise.

“To protect the public from harmful tobacco smoke, we need to create a 100 per cent tobacco-free environment as there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke,” he said after launching the Blue Ribbon campaign yesterday.

The campaign by the ministry’s health promotion board aimed to create awareness on second-hand smoke hazards and to recognise individuals and organisations adopting a smoke-free environment in their premises.

Liow also revealed that Penang had become the second state after Malacca to have smoke-free zones.

They included reservoirs and recreational parks in the state, including its famed Botanic Gardens. The areas were gazetted as smoke-free zones from October last year.

Liow added that studies showed that tobacco contained more than 7,000 chemicals, of which 70 were carcinogens.

“Studies have also shown that even brief exposure to second-hand smoke can cause cardiovascular disease and trigger heart attack.”

He said smoking was one of the biggest contributor of heart diseases, lung and breast cancers, stroke and nasal irritation in adults. In children, it had been proven to cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, impaired lung function and ear disease.

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the world today, killing up to half of its users.”

The Malaysian Global Adult Tobacco Survey conducted in 2011 showed that 4.7 million (23.1 per cent) adults were smokers.

The survey also showed that 2.3 million (40 per cent) adults were exposed to tobacco smoke at the workplace, 7.6 million (39 per cent or four in ten) were exposed at home and 8.6 million (71 per cent or seven in ten) were exposed in restaurants.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) studies had shown that tobacco killed nearly six million people annually, of which more than five million were former smokers.

The world body also said studies in 2010 showed that more than 600,000 non-smokers were exposed to second-hand smoke, of which 28 per cent were children.

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