PETALING JAYA: The Government's tobacco control measures have since the 1970s been obscured by the industry's aggressive promotional activities, said a Health Ministry officer.
Citing the use of aggressive advertising and sponsorship, Disease Control Division principal assistant director Dr Zarihah Zain said health-related campaigns and messages had no chance against the “frequent bombardment of positive images associated with tobacco brand names.”
“The more attractively designed tobacco ads certainly caught more attention, especially amongst youths, resulting in an overall preference to use the cigarettes rather than avoiding them,'' Dr Zarihah said in an interview.
The Government has banned all forms of cigarette-related promotions, including those on brand names, travel and other non-tobacco businesses since Jan 1.
However, tobacco advertisements are still allowed at point-of-sales, and sponsorship exemptions for Formula One, football and sepak takraw are in place until their respective contractual agreements with tobacco companies end.
Dr Zarihah said the removal of all forms of tobacco promotions would hopefully result in more effective anti-tobacco campaigns and messages on the true effects of cigarettes.
On the proposal by the Framework Convention Alliance, representing 180 non-governmental organisations from 70 countries, for pictorial warnings on cigarette packs to be made mandatory, Dr Zarihah said:
“In principle, the Health Ministry is in favour of having significantly clearer health warnings on cigarette packages including the use of pictorial messages. However, its implementation will need in-depth study.”
Health warnings on packs were introduced in Malaysia on Oct 1, 1977 under the purview of the then Trade and Industry Ministry.
In 1993, the Control of Tobacco Products Regulations under the Food Act came into force, placing the health warnings under the Health Ministry's jurisdiction.
Did you find this article insightful?