KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The government has been urged to review its proposal to set up special smoking zones in public places, estimated to cost RM1mil, and instead use the allocation for smokers’ rehabilitation programmes or treatment for diseases caused by smoking.
Malaysian Public Health Medicine Specialist Association president Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said such designated zones were not necessary as smokers were restricted from lighting up at only 23 gazetted areas, such as eateries, air-conditioned shops, hospitals and government premises.
He said smoking zones in public places such as the ones provided by the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) will give an impression of ‘re-normalisation’, especially among youths that smoking is acceptable by society.
"This is not in line with Malaysia’s goal to be a smoke-free nation by 2045,” Dr Zainal Arrifin, representing 56 professional bodies and non-governmental organisations (NGO) such as the Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) and the National Cancer Society of Malaysia, told a media conference here today.
Setting up such zones will also discourage smokers from quitting the habit, he said.
Dr Zainal Ariffin said it was a well-known fact that smoking was a bad habit, one that even religious authorities have acknowledged after issuing a decree in 1996 that smoking was haram for Muslims.
"So, this proposal (to provide smoking zones) is seen as indirectly supporting this unhealthy habit,” he said.
Recently Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said local authorities who wish to set up special smoking areas in public places within their respective areas can apply to the ministry for an allocation, with RM1mil set aside for this purpose.
She said RM5,000 will be allocated to each local authority to set up smoking zones.- Bernama