IPOH: There is a worrying trend of smoking among teenagers, and the smoking ban at all eateries starting from next month is one way to control the scourge, says Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.
His ministry viewed the trend seriously and the ban would help keep it in check in the long run, he said, noting that Malaysia had in 2005 signed an agreement with the World Health Organisation to commit to a smoke-free country by 2045.
“So the ban is a way forward to achieve the target of controlling and expanding the no-smoking zones so that we could reduce the number of smokers as well as protect non-smokers,” he told reporters at a gotong royong and dengue prevention event at Kampung Rapat Jaya Tambahan, yesterday.
He was asked to comment on the Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association’s (Primas) request to the government to put the ban on hold.
Dr Lee said despite objections, the ban would be enforced come Jan 1.
While there was resistance to the move, there were also many others who supported it, he added.
“The ministry have held dialogues with many restaurant operators, including Primas, and such dialogues will continue as we understand their predicament.
“But at the same time we must take into consideration cigarette smoke inhaled by non-smokers,” he said.
He reiterated that smoking was harmful to both smokers and non-smokers.
Dr Lee said the rights of smokers were not totally taken away as they could smoke at suitable places far away from the public.
“I am not encouraging them to smoke but they could do so at other open places without the presence of the public,” he said.
On another matter, Dr Lee said the ministry would only consider registering marijuana for medical use when there was evidence to show that it was indeed effective and safe to use.
Drug companies, he said, must produce the necessary evidence on the use of marijuana for medical purposes before it could be registered.
“Some drug company had registered it before but it was later withdrawn. Any pharmaceutical company wishing to register marijuana as medicine will need to submit a dossier that contains the necessary information, including whether it is safe and effective to use,” he said.
On Dec 25, Thailand approved marijuana for medical use and research, the first legalisation of the drug in a region with some of the world’s strictest drug laws.
Dr Lee said for now, marijuana was still a chemical governed by the Poison Act, and thus its possession and sale were illegal under the Dangerous Drugs Act.