Comply with smoking ban, help make Malaysia tobacco-free, Health Ministry tells eateries

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 13 Nov 2018

PETALING JAYA: Eateries should comply with the impending smoking ban at all open-air restaurants in an effort to reduce tobacco consumption and make Malaysia tobacco-free by 2045. 

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said that ample time has been given to eatery operators to adjust since the suggestion was mooted over two years ago. 

''We are firming up only in August and until today we haven't even implemented the enforcement.

''There would be some who feel that their businesses will be affected. But when we stop smoking in open-air eateries, everyone will be on a level playing field. 

''I don't see why their business will be affected, as customers go to the restaurant to eat, not to smoke.

''Of course, I do understand that some may feel that their sales of cigarettes will be affected,'' he said when met after opening the first Malaysian chapter of Global Resuscitation Alliance (GRA) meeting, which also saw the launching of the national level Save My Heart programme. 

Dr Lee was responding to questions on the unhappiness of coffeeshop and restaurant owners who were against the move to ban smoking on their premises.

Three associations said the ban would discourage smoking patrons from coming and affect their business.

The associations are Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General Association (MSCSPGA), Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) and the Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (Primas).

Dr Lee noted that the exercise's ultimate objective was for the consumption of cigarettes and tobacco products to reduce over the years.

''We are complying with what World Health Organisation (WHO) has advocated and also Malaysia's goal to be a smoke-free nation by 2045.

''If we look at it, areas with a smoking ban make up less than one per cent of the entire surface area in the country.  

''There are still so many spaces where smokers can get their fix,'' he said, adding that the ministry is open to having discussions with the associations. 

''We can still continue to have dialogues.

''We are not saying that smokers cannot smoke, just that not at the designated areas where there's a ban.''

Meanwhile, Dr Lee also said discussions are underway between the Health and Education ministries to equip teachers with the skill to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) so that it can be taught to students. 

''We want to train students to actually be capable of performing CPR. 

''I hope they can accept the idea of training students to be CPR providers so that when they leave school, we will have a generation of people who are capable and ready to save lives,'' he said. 

At the moment, he said the teaching of CPR is only theoretical at secondary school under the Health and Physical Education (pendidikan jasmani dan kesihatan) subject. 

''Some schools are teaching the actual skill with the support of each school's principal.

''To do it nationwide we need to discuss with the Education Ministry,'' he said. 

Dr Lee noted that knowledge and skill to perform CPR is important because the out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rate in Malaysia is low, while the worldwide rate is less than 1%. 

Dr Lee also noted that the cardiac arrest registry would be expanded to all public hospitals nationwide to gather data on the number of cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and also measurement of outcome. 

Right now, the registry has been implemented in government hospitals in Sungai Buloh, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Miri and Kuching.

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