SEPANG: The Health Ministry has launched a five-year "Speak Out" campaign to empower people to encourage smokers to quit smoking.
Its minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad urged the people to support the "Speak Out: Express Your Right, Protect Your Lungs" campaign to make it a success.
He said the campaign was launched in conjunction with the coming Ramadan with the theme "No Tobacco and Fresh Breath Beginning Ramadan" for its national-level celebration as the Ramadan month was the best time for people to change.
The campaign was launched in collaboration with Karnival 3W (Wellness, Welfare and Women) in Sepang on Saturday (May 4).
"I understand that not all can remind smokers around them to stop smoking, but I believe smokers can be moved to stop smoking if we ask in a civil manner," he said.
He said that the social support from family members and friends could also motivate smokers to quit.
Dzulkefly said with 85% of Malaysians being non-smokers, it was time for the Ministry to empower them to say "no" to smoke from smokers.
"They can assist the Ministry to make the campaign a success," he said.
He said that a study carried out by the Health Education Division on 1,430 respondents from April 4 to 28 revealed that 98.4% supported the Ministry's proposed campaign.
Dzulkefly added that as many as 96% said they agreed to remind smokers around them to stop smoking.
He said 44% of the respondents have family members or housemates who smoke and from the figure, 19.7% had family members or housemates who smoked in the house.
He hoped that together with the World Health Organisation's focus on "Tobacco and Lung Health," the campaign would increase awareness on the impact of smoking on lungs while encouraging people to quit smoking.
He said that the COMBI community team that helped to fight dengue will also assist with the campaign.
Dzulkefly also reiterated that the government was not making a U-turn when it extended the educational enforcement for smoking in open-air eateries for another six months until end of this year.
Under the educational enforcement, warning notices would be issued to smokers at open air eateries instead of fines.
"Although most Malaysians support us, we want to strengthen the buy-in," he said after the launch.
He said that up to March 4, there were 25,791 warning notices issued to smokers, while 200,887 educational enforcement activities carried out with 90,078 premises checked.
He said that the delay on the compound imposed were targeted at smokers at public eating places only; the other 22 no-smoking areas were not included and fines are imposed.
He said those who wish to quit smoking could go to www.jomquit.gov.my or call Quit Smoking Infoline 03-88834400 for information.