Ministry of Health to present to next Parliamentary meeting a report on
the health and economic costs and consequences of smoking in Malaysia
- on Supply (Reallocation of Appropriated Expenditure) Bill 2004
by Lim Kit Siang
(Dewan Rakyat, Tuesday): When I was last in Parliament five years ago, Parliament was well on the way to a smoking-free environment, with the canteen a smoke-free zone. But when I returned to Parliament five years later, after RM80 million spent on its renovation, Parliament seems to have become smoke-full, especially the canteen whose atmosphere is heavily laden and contaminated with smoke.
The world has just celebrated the World Health Organisation’s “World No Tobacco Day” the previous Monday on May 31, but the Malaysian government does not seem to be very serious or committed to the programme despite launching a “Tak Nak” campaign by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in February.
On the occasion of the 2004 WHO “World No Tobacco Day”, Norway became the second nation in the world after Ireland to ban smoking in all public places, including all bars and restaurants to protect waiters, bartenders, cooks and other staff members from second-hand smoke, which is blamed as the cause of cancer and respiratory and heart diseases.
Norway did not regulate smoking until 1988, but it is already unthinkable to have to share an office or an elevator with a smoker or to light up on a train, a bus or a plane.
Ireland, which pioneered the ban on smoking, issued a report on “World No Tobacco Day” which showed that nearly all of Ireland’s workplaces were complying with the new law.
Is the government prepared to set a target for Malaysia to join Ireland and Norway to ban smoking?
WHO had raised the alarm over the growing toll from cigarette use in poor and developing countries .It said tobacco killed every six and a half seconds while many others succumb to disease caused by smoking. It reported that tobacco use claims five million lives a year and the number is expected to double over the next 25 years.
The Health Ministry should present to the next Parliamentary meeting a report on the health and economic costs and consequences of smoking in Malaysia as the basis for an effective public awareness campaign to cut down smoking in the country to both save lives and the astronomical healthcare costs to the nation, community and the individual.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman