Kuala Lumpur – If healthcare providers and non-governmental organisations have their way, all public places would be 100 percent
Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control chairperson K Koris Atan said the government should remove all current exemptions to achieve this.
“Political will and economic issues come into play as well. This is why cooperation from other sectors is pivotal,” he told a recent Conference on Tobacco Control in Kuala Lumpur.
Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance director Bungon Ritthiphakdee said any tobacco control policy should be free from industry interference.
“To strengthen tobacco control regulations, the country needs to give up all exemptions to move towards a 100 percent smoke free environment,” she said.
At the conference, participants passed resolutions that called for:
* Immediate passage of a Control of Tobacco Products Act and effective enforcement to prohibit smoking
in all workplaces, public transportation and public places, including parks;
* Recognition that air filtration and use of designated smoking areas (whether or not with a separate
ventilation system) have proved ineffective against exposure to tobacco smoke; and
* Monitoring and evaluation of implementation, enforcement and impact of tobacco control laws, including
industry activities that undermine legislation.
Bungon also said new ways are being found to lure young people especially into smoking, such as the
commercial availability of shisha.
(This is an oriental tobacco pipe with a long flexible tube connected to a container where the smoke is
cooled by passing through water.)
Koris urged the authorities to monitor the mushrooming of shisha outlets, describing the habit as a “ticking
“Smoking of shisha and hookah is rampant in the Jalan Bukit Bintang area and (even) school children
patronise the outlets. Operators mislead students into thinking that these are flavoured products, when in
fact they contain tobacco,” he claimed.
Penang on target
Koris also named former health minister Dr Chua Soi Lek as the “culprit” who had allowed tobacco
companies to sell 14-stick cigarette packs until next year.
“(Malaysia) is violating the Control of Tobacco Products Regulations 1993 (which stipulate that) only 20-
stick packs can be sold. I want to see a reversion to the 20-stick packing because (school children are the
main buyers of) 14-stick packs.”
Koris called on the Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to prohibit the sale of cigarettes by inserting this
as a condition of licences issued to petrol station operators.
The conference highlighted the Penang government’s efforts to create the country’s first smoke-free city.
“The Penang government has beefed up enforcement to ensure that the state assembly building remains
a 100 percent smoke free area. It has also pledged to make all recreational areas smoke free zones,” said
Haslina Hashim, principal assistant director of the National Poison Centre (NPC).
She said all shopping complexes in Penang have been designated smoke-free zone, while the NPC
collaborating with the industrial sector to extend the concept.
— Courtesy of Malaysiakini.com