Secondary smoking bites! — Darshan Singh Dhillon

APRIL 30 — We all know that tobacco smoke is enormously harmful to our health. It is therefore for this particular reason that the government has implemented various policy and regulatory initiatives, investing billions of ringgit in public funds to discourage or prohibit people from smoking.

Despite these efforts, the tobacco industry nevertheless continues to flourish. According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2016 there are approximately five million Malaysians, or 22.8 per cent of the country's population who smoke.

WHO’s June 2016 fact sheet on the other hand indicates that there are currently about one billion smokers in this world.

While smokers consciously chose to risk their own health, it is unfortunate that their actions, knowing or unknowingly, adversely affect others within their vicinity.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya has previously stated that seven out of 10 or 8.6 million adults at public spots are exposed to the risk of secondary smoke. In fact, children are especially vulnerable to second-hand smoke as they are unable to avoid it.

It is quite a sickening sight when noticing someone who selfishly smoke in a restaurant well in the presence of other patrons, in completely disregard of basic decency.

While the MCM commends the Health Ministry’s initiative to discourage smoking by implementing various policies and regulations, this must be followed by stern enforcement action. Other than those who directly violate rules, restaurants operators or building owners must also be held responsible for failing to prevent such incidents.

Fellow patrons may hesitate to interfere when noticing such people, as they may fear backlash but building or premises operators have all the right to demand patrons who smoke in their premises to stop doing so or leave.

It is appreciated that smoking is purely at the discretion of an individual but causing harm to others as a result of secondary smoke is unacceptable. It is imperative to embrace a behavioural change thus refraining from endangering other.

Let's strive to ensure that our actions uphold the wellbeing of others.

* Darshan Singh Dhillon is president of Malaysia Consumers Movement (MCM)

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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