Intent is good but outcome might be bad

PREVENTION is better than cure. This fundamental principle of modern healthcare has been propounded by advocates of the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022, also known as the tobacco generational endgame (GEG) law.

Their intent, which is to promote better health and well-being and thereby prevent people from becoming ill, is good, but there may be other things to consider as well.

Consider a person who walks into a clinic seeking treatment for his ailment. After consultation with the doctor, the patient is given medicines and advised on how to take them.

He can choose to follow the doctor’s instructions or otherwise. Say he doesn’t take the medicine and doesn’t get better. He goes to see the same doctor again. The doctor can advise him again to take his medicine. He can educate, persuade or even scold the patient, but the good doctor cannot force him to take the medicine. This is because the patient has rights to personal liberty.

Any individual reaching the legal age of adulthood (which varies by countries but generally ranges from 18 to 21 years) is fully responsible for his own decisions and actions. He takes responsibility for his own body and health. And no matter how we think it ought to be decided for the person, unless he is mentally ill, in dire circumstances i.e medical emergency, or in case of pandemics threatening public health, no one should be subjected to any medical treatment without his consent.

Doctors intuitively want to treat, prevent diseases and promote health. But in upholding the medical ethics of beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy and justice, it must be remembered that every person has a right to liberty.


Johor Baru

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