KUALA LUMPUR: Asthma Malaysia has viewed favourably a move by the Health Ministry to ban smoking at open eateries.
This would have a positive impact on the lives of the people, especially those with underlying medical problems, its co-founder Dr Helmy Haja Mydin said.
“The consequences of secondhand smoking are well-documented. As a recent letter signed by 30 Malaysian medical organisations stated, studies have shown that it causes premature heart disease and lung cancer amongst non-smokers and even leads to strokes.
“The effects are particularly felt by women and children,” Dr Helmy added.
For example, he said secondhand smoke could lead 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,” he said in welcoming Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad’s announcement that open eateries would be gazetted as no-smoking areas.
Dr Sundari Ampikaipakan, who is another co-founder of Asthma Malaysia, said: “Although some eateries have raised the issue of potential income loss with this gazettement, evidence from abroad has demonstrated that efforts to make eateries more family-friendly have led to an increase in the number of customers.”
As for Mydin managing director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin, he said the initiative has plenty of support “but we need to work hard to ensure that consumers understand the rationale for it.”
“For a retail chain such as Mydin which caters massively to families that include children, pregnant mothers and elderly people as well as stakeholders such as wholesalers, restaurants and shop operators, this is a welcomed move that will allow public places to be healthier, safer, cleaner and more environmentally friendly,” he added.