Sunday March 3, 2013
Stand up for your rights, non-smokers urged
The Star Says
ANYONE who has tried to tell off a person smoking in a non-smoking zone knows that it is extremely difficult to talk sense to a person who deliberately ignores the law.
He may give you an unfriendly “mind your own business” stare or even get nasty if you try too hard to get him to stop.
People who do not smoke understand the dangers of smoking. But, unfortunately, they have to bear with the perils of second-hand smoke.
The Government's latest attempt to tackle this issue consistent with the Framework for Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which we ratified back in 2003 is laudable even if the battle is not easy.
According to the Malaysian Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2011, four in 10 Malaysian adults, which is 40% or 7.6 million people, are exposed to tobacco smoke in the home. The figures are equally alarming in the workplace (40% or 2.3 million people) and in public restaurants (71% or 8.6 million people).
To put it in context, the reported three million Malaysian smokers who consume an average of 14 cigarettes a day have put millions more of their fellow citizens at risk.
Which is why the Health Ministry has called on the non-smoking public to play a leading role in the Government's fight against second-hand smoke through the Blue Ribbon campaign.
As Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai put it, “There is a need for a bottom-up' nationwide movement that would result in a tobacco-free lifestyle.”
We must all do our part in the home, the workplace and all public areas to keep our environment smoke-free.
And that should include our intolerance of smokers who flout the rules or create their own smoking zones even within smoke-free office buildings or high-rise apartments.
It is time for non-smokers to stand up for their rights because the law can only do so much.
The battle against second-hand smoke in the home, workplace and other public places rests in our hands.
If we are successful there, we can move on to creating smoke-free neighbourhoods, smoke-free districts, smoke-free states and eventually a smoke-free nation.