MELAKA: The Health Ministry is committed to enacting a stand-alone Tobacco Control Act which designates all public places as no-smoking areas.
The legislation will also designate a limited list of places where smokers can light up, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
He said it is not his or the ministry’s intention to outlaw smoking, but that the move is to ensure that the public – especially children – does not fall victim to second-hand smoke.
He said as with any type of change, modification of inherent societal norms involving smoking would certainly not come easily, but that the ministry is confident that it could be implemented successfully.
“Perhaps one day we shall have legal provisions that prohibit smoking near a minor, regardless of where the offence takes place.
“It is always heart-breaking for me to see adults puffing away even while carrying a child in their arms,” he said in his speech at the Recognition and Awards Ceremony for Revolution Smoke-Free Workplace Campaign here, on Saturday night.
Also present were Melaka Health and Anti-drug Committee chairman Low Chee Leong and Malaysian Women’s Action on Tobacco Control and Health president Roslizawati Ali.
The event saw Dr Dzulkefly handing over certificates to 14 Melaka hotels as smoke-free workplaces.
On the dangers of smoking, Dr Dzulkefly reminded the public that tobacco smoke contains thousands of toxic chemicals, including those known to cause cancer, heart disease, lung infections and other serious health problems.
“Effective laws and policies must be enacted and strictly enforced to ensure that the population is adequately protected against the threats of pollution from tobacco smoke,” he said.
Dr Dzulkefly added that as the custodian of public health, his ministry is determined to place the people’s interest above that of any commercial entity.
“But such a drive can be very challenging, and we may not be able to do everything on our own. Therefore, I wish to call upon all sectors, particularly civil societies, other government agencies and the private sector to support us,” he said.