A few decades ago, many Malaysians literally lived amidst smoke. Cigarette smoke pervaded the air in buses, clinics, shops, restaurants, and even on air planes. People puffed everywhere, some all day at work. There was little escape. Someone could light up in your house next to your children – and you’d be expected to provide an ashtray. On TV, actors smoked on screen, and images of cigarette brands even infiltrated sports broadcasts, as major sponsors.
As a young journalist at The Star in the early 1990s, I remember our own smoky newsroom. One night, when working late, I looked up to see a thick white cloud floating above the area where the sub-editors sat chain-smoking.