FT mufti backs smoking ban, calls smokers ‘devil’s kin’ over wasteful habit

Federal Territories Mufti Datuk Seri Dr. Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri speaks to reporters at Menara Pusat Islam, Kuala Lumpur December 20, 2018. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana
Federal Territories Mufti Datuk Seri Dr. Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri speaks to reporters at Menara Pusat Islam, Kuala Lumpur December 20, 2018. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — Cigarette smokers are akin to the “devil’s kin” due to their wasteful and costly habit, the Federal Territories mufti said citing the Quran to back a new nationwide smoking ban in all eateries.

Datuk Seri Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri said smokers are also considered as rich people who make themselves poor, further noting that Malaysians have been reported to spend RM1.5 billion annually to buy cigarettes.

“If a mosque was built at a cost of RM10 million each, that amount can be used for 150 mosques.

“Therefore the problem of lack of mosques can be solved in just one year,” he wrote in a statement that was carried on the mufti’s office’s website.

The mufti’s office was referring to verse 17:27 of the Quran which labels those who are wasteful as kins of the devil, as one of the points supporting the ban of smoking in eateries, where even the use of vape or shisha is also banned.

Among the other points offered together with citations of reports and government-provided health information, the mufti’s office said smoking could cut short the life of Malaysians.

“According to estimates, 3,500 of every 10,000 deaths each year in Malaysia are related to smoking. This shows 35 per cent of deaths are caused by smoking,” it said.

It said smoking could lead to a whole list of chronic illnesses such as lung cancer, heart attacks, risk of stroke and even affect male fertility, adding that second-hand smokers inhale 60 to 75 per cent of the smoke, which contains higher levels of dangerous chemicals.

It said smoking could also lead to other problems such as littering of cigarette butts and ashes, while claiming that smoking could eventually lead to drug addiction.

“According to a study by the National Anti-Drugs Agency, 90 per cent of drug addiction cases originate from smoking. This shows a close relation between smoking and drug addiction,” it said.

These points are on top of existing opinion pieces issued by the Federal Territories mufti’s office in the past four years regarding cigarettes and its alternatives, vape, or e-cigarettes, and shisha.

The mufti’s office listed these articles as including opinions on the use of vape; on the inhaling of shisha; the validity of marriages involving guardians who are smokers; imams who smoke; working in a tobacco factory or factory that manufactures machines used in cigarette production; smoking while fasting; and smoking in the toilet.

While acknowledging that smokers may have a right to smoke, it said those around them have a right to fresh air, unpolluted by cigarette smoke.

The mufti’s office also argued against the claim that smoking could reduce stress, citing its temporary effect and adding that it could potentially cause greater stress as they would ultimately leave leaner pockets due to money being spent on cigarettes.