PETALING JAYA: A smoking ban at open-air eateries in the country will help reduce the adverse impact of secondhand smoke and will help improve the wellbeing of Malaysians, says a group of local medical-related organisations.
“There is no greater modifiable risk factor than tobacco, and by implementing measures to reduce the impact of secondhand smoke, the government will go a long way in reducing the nation’s healthcare costs while increasing the wellbeing of the rakyat,” said the group of 30 in a statement yesterday.
It hailed the announcement by the Health Ministry to turn open-air eateries into non-smoking zones from December. The organisations said secondhand smoke exposed non-smokers to health risks.
“One in two smokers will die from the use of tobacco. While that is a tragedy on its own, it is an even greater travesty that many non-smokers suffer numerous ailments as a result of secondhand smoke.
“For example, secondhand smoke leads to more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections and ear infections. It also increases the risk of premature birth, low birth weight, birth defects and sudden infant death syndrome.
“The effects are particularly felt by women and children, who are often at the mercy of smokers and are unable to voice out their concerns,” said the organisations.
They said the announcement by the ministry also showed the government was fulfilling its obligation to protect public health and make public places 100% smoke-free, as detailed in the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which Malaysia has signed and ratified.
Among the organisations involved in issuing the statement were Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, Family Medicine Specialists Association of Malaysia, National Cancer Society of Malaysia and National Heart Association of Malaysia.
Others were Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia as well as Malaysian Psychiatric Association.