Consumers Association of Penang

Giving voice to the little people...since 1970

CAP calls for smoking ban to be extended to all public places

CAP fully supports the move by the Ministry of Health to ban smoking at all eateries.

The ban would be in line with Malaysia's commitments under the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and with measures adopted by other countries the world over to curb smoking in public areas.

Most importantly, it could literally be a life-saver. In fact in India many states have banned smoking in all public places and statistics have shown a huge reduction in cigarette smoking. Most recently Beijing has now stubbed out smoking in public. 

According to the Health Ministry's statistics, an estimated 100,000 Malaysians die from smoke-related illnesses every year. Here it is crucial to keep in mind that the deadly threat posed by cigarettes extends not only to the smokers themselves but to others exposed to the cigarette smoke as well.

This so-called second-hand smoke puts even non-smokers at greater risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and the lethal list goes on. For instance, lung cancer risk increases by 20-30 per cent in those who are regularly exposed to other people's cigarette smoke.

A ban on smoking in all eateries is thus long overdue, especially since the 2011 Global Adult Tobacco Survey revealed that seven in 10 Malaysian adults were exposed to second-hand smoke when visiting restaurants.

In addition, over 80 per cent of Malaysian respondents to the survey wanted 100 per cent smoke-free public places. This suggests that, contrary to the fears of restaurant and coffeeshop owners that their profits would take a hit, a ban would also make good business sense.

CAP therefore urges the Health Ministry to stand firm against attempts to stall or water down the ban on smoking in eateries. In fact, we believe it should go a step further and extend the ban to all public places. 

That would constitute a major contribution to safeguarding public health, for it would not only protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke exposure but may also help induce smokers to quit the habit.
According to WHO, smoking bans, by creating an environment where lighting up becomes more difficult and less socially acceptable, can play a part in bringing down smoking rates. It is, in short, high time for the public health scourge that is cigarette smoking to be snuffed out.

Press release, 2 June 2015