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Cancer group petition backs Putrajaya’s move to ban smoking in public areas

Putrajaya’s proposal to fully ban smoking in public places might be a reality soon with the support of the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM), which recently launched an online petition to support the move.

Titled “SMOKING! YES I MIND!!”, the petition is meant to back Putrajaya’s recently-revealed plan to implement a 100% ban on smoking in all areas including open-air premises such as recreational parks.

This comes after statistics from the Health Ministry revealed that some 100,000 Malaysians die from smoking related illnesses every year.

Priya Menon from NCSM, who is coordinating the petition, told The Malaysian Insider recently that the reason behind the move was to show support for what the government was doing.
“We are doing this in a way to encourage them and to help them lobby this ban.

“For the government to implement it, they not only need the support from NGOs but also from the public and the media to make this as visible as possible.”

This was the first petition that NCSM has ever launched, Priya said, indicating just how much it takes smoking and the after-effects of it seriously.

“The 100,000 figure are only those who smoke. It does not include those who die from illnesses from inhaling second-hand smoke. Studies have shown that second-hand smoke is more harmful than the actual smoking.

“The number of deaths has been increasing every year and this is a concern to us. It is estimated that in the 21st century, some 1 billion people will die from tobacco use.”

Contrary to popular belief, lung cancer was not the only cancer that is due to tobacco, Priya said.

“There are 16 other types of cancer that has been linked to tobacco use.”

The petition, which has so far received 490 signatures, will be sent to the ministry once it has reached its target of 100,000 signatures.

However, the response, Priya said, has been slow as many are not yet aware of the ban and the petition.

“Currently we are trying to get the word out as much as possible. Also could be because many don’t see the importance of this smoking ban and the lack of awareness.”

When asked if the poor response was because the Malaysian public were not receptive of the proposal, she said a 2011 Global Tobacco Survey showed that 83.5% of respondents here said they wanted 100% smoke-free public places.

“From that, we can safely assume that the public does want a smoke-free environment and although we aren’t expecting it to happen immediately, we hope that petitions such as these will help push for the ban,” Priya said.

Adzrin Jaafar and Wan Mohamad, two heavy smokers, told The Malaysian Insider that they would fully back the ban if a special area was allocated just for smokers.

“I will support the ban because I, too, don’t want people to smoke near my family members and young child. Besides, it is unfair to affect others with our smoke,” Wan said.

“However, there should be an alternative given to smokers so that they don’t smoke outside. Like in airports, they provide a special room for smoking.”

Adzrin agreed, although she was not in agreement with banning smoking at public places such as restaurants, stadiums and parks.

“But if they really want to, then the government should provide or allocate areas for smokers to go puff in those places.

“If they did that, there shouldn’t be a problem.”

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