Groups: Take firm stand on enforcing anti-smoking measures

PETALING JAYA - Tougher anti-smoking provisions will not work if there is no stringent enforcement, say non-smokers. Smokers, meanwhile, say it will not stop them from puffing away.

Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control chairman Dr Molly Cheah said the Government had yet to take a firm stand on anti-smoking by getting tough on those who break the law.

In citing examples, she said patrons still lit up at kopitiams and there was still rampant sales of single sticks of cigarettes despite laws only allowing sales of cigarette packs.

"While we are happy that the Government is being stringent with smokers, it is peanuts compared to what they are supposed to do. If they are not going to enforce the law, then it will not bring the desired outcome," she said.

She added that despite being a signatory to the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control since 2005, the number of smokers had increased, with the trend also affecting teenagers.

The Star reported yesterday that the Health Ministry planned to label each cigarette with the label Merokok Membahayakan Kesihatan (Smoking is Hazardous to Health), increase the size of pictorial warnings by 10 per cent and non-smoking areas to include five-foot ways or the entire area of a premises within a perimetered wall.

Also on the cards are getting tobacco companies to sell cigarettes in plain packaging, writing to the ministry for every cigarette price revision as well as reducing the content of tar and nicotine.

Fomca chief executive officer Datuk Paul Selvaraj said the new provisions would need strict enforcement and continuous education campaigns.

He said anti-smoking laws worked in other countries because of the stringent enforcement.

"We need to also have an honest evaluation to ascertain the effectiveness of our anti-smoking campaigns and make appropriate corrections, if necessary," he said.

Student WB Sim, 21, who picked up smoking five years ago, said the proposed provisions would likely discourage those who have yet to pick up smoking.

"Smokers like me will not be bothered about what is on the packaging," he said.

John Barry, 25, said the new clauses would not deter or influence him to quit his two days a pack habit.

"I will stop smoking when I am ready to do so," he said.

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