THE Malaysia Council for Tobacco (MCTC) welcomed the initiative by the National Sports Institute (NSI) to introduce nicotine tests in sports schools.
Their president, K. Koris Atan, however, stressed that the parties concerned should emphasise on the educational aspect of such a programme.
“It’s great to hear that NSI is starting such a programme. We would like to hear more of it,” said Koris. “We want to ensure children stay away from cigarettes and we’re glad there are still parties out there who are willing to help us in our cause.”
Koris questioned the government’s decision in still allowing the sale of the 14-stick packs, better known as the Kitty Packs, which was in violation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) signed by former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2005.
It was the same year which saw the launch of the failed RM100 million Tak Nak anti-smoking campaign. Ironically, the country hosted the International Tobacco Expo at the KL Convention Centre which saw the participation of over than 200 international companies displaying their products in November 2005.
Koris, who is also president of the Penang Consumer Protection Association and vice-president of the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations, said this at a press conference to announce the launch of the 3rd Malaysian Conference on Tobacco Control scheduled for Aug 8 and 9 at the UKM Hospital in Cheras.
Also present were Professor of Health, Economics & Consultant Public Health Medicine Senior Research Fellow Prof Datuk Dr Syed Mohamed Aljunid, USM Assoc. Prof. Foong Kin, Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society vice-president Assoc.
Prof. Dr Mohamad Haniki Nik Mohamed and Cyberjaya University head of department of Public Health and Community Medicine Prof. Dr Abu Bakar Abdul Majid and MCTC exco member Shaari Ahamd Junid.
The Malay Mail had on June 24, highlighted the news by NSI director general Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz who said that there are plans by the NSI to start a pilot project by conducting tests on students from sports schools.
Responding to the article, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Liow Tiong Lai gave the thumbsup to the programme adding that it was possible for such tests to be done in public schools as well.
The test was suggested after the NSI recorded poor fitness levels and performance among athletes, especially those from team sports, over the years.
This was highlighted by Ramlan during Malay Mail’s two-part series published last October where he described “one smoker in a team can be the weakest link in the chain.”
Koris pointed out that there was a list of places where smoking is prohibited as drafted by the government. It also includes stadiums and sports venues.
“We have good laws but very poor enforcement. If people still smoke within the vicinity of the Parliament house, the house that drafts and tables laws, what more at stadiums,” he added.