Malaysian health authorities and consumer movement should take a leaf from the landmark US368.5 billion (RM921.25 billion) settlement by the US tobacco industry and require local tobacco industry to bear responsibility for smoking-related diseases as well as to eliminate youth smoking


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Sunday):
The Malaysian health authorities and the consumer movement should take a leaf from the landmark US368.5 billion (RM921.25 billion) settlement by the US tobacco industry and require the local tobacco industry to bear responsibility for smoking-related diseases as well as to eliminate youth smoking.

It is time that the tobacco industry is made responsible to contribute to the costs of health care in the country arising from smoking-related diseases, especially heart diseases and cancer.

I call on the Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday to set up a Cabinet Committee comprising representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs and the Attorney-General’s Chambers to work out a strategy to convene a conference involving the consumer movement and the tobacco industry to get the tobacco industry to make a substantial contribution to the costs of health care arising from smoking-related diseases as well as to reduce tobacco consumption and to ban all forms of direct or indirect tobacco advertising.

In this connection, the Education Ministry should reconsider the sponsorship of the anti-smoking programme in the 1,500 schools by the Confederation of Malaysian Tobacco Manufacturers, which appeared to to divert attention from the real issue to call for a ban on such promotions and sponsorships.

According to a survey conducted in the Klang Valley in 1995 by researchers from local universities, 71 per cent of young people aged between 13 and 21 smoke.

However, would an anti-smoking campaign promoted by the tobacco companies be counter-productive in the same way that despite the ban on direct advertisements, the tobacco industry had been able to use sponsorship of sporting activities to create sub-conscious positive images of the relationship between smoking and healthy activities.

This is probably why despite the ban on direct advertisement, the tobacco industry is valued at RM2.9 billion (based on the sales of cigarettes).

The Cabinet Committee to make the tobacco industry responsible for smoking-related diseases should also end the mixed and confusing signals which the government has been sending out on the anti-smoking campaign, as for instance:

(22/6/97)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong