11/07/2009

Tobacco & Malaysian Society

Malaysians may see cigarette prices rising by 11% next yr. The issue about social health vs personal choice has been around for quite a while & it's something that we need to address seriously as the number of Malaysian smokers aren't decreasing. 

About 50% of men & 30% adolescent boys smoke in Malaysia, which is appalling: lung cancer cases is on the rise. The government has placed gory images of the effects from smoking on cigarette packs but this practice has little effect as people are unaffacted by the images/buy personal cigarrette holders minus the images. 

What can we do to stop the rising number smokers? We know it's bad for our health; it doesn't only affect the smoker but the people around him/her. The various associated health risks still doesn't nick the shell of a smoker...The best way to solve this issue is to prevent an individual from taking his/her 1st puff. We have to stop the youths from picking up the habit for we know nicotine is terribly addictive. 

This is difficult to achieve as many youths pick up the habit through influence from peers or family members. Would increasing the prices of cigarettes help? According to this news piece, BAT reasoned that increased cigarette prices will encourage illicit trading. So if the price of cigarettes is increased, the government must couple that with better enforcement & stricter rules about smoking in public places. 

This article is good & I will extract major points which I feel is crucial to stop the increasing number of smokers in Malaysia:

1. Increase the price of cigarettes: by increasing taxes on cigarettes, it will leave a bigger hole in the pockets of consumers & hopefully discourage them from smoking 'em so frequently. However this may promote the growth of illicit trade. The government must work tirelessly to ensure legal sales of cigarettes & to make sure the effect of the price increase is optimum.

2. Reduce the number of outlets selling cigarettes: Cigarettes are found almost everywhere; the local coffeeshop, the petrol station (isn't this weird? I thought smoking was banned at the station), grocery stores etc...Limiting the availability will discourage smokers & ensure better control of cigarettes sales.

3. Ban smooking in public places: people still smoke in restaurants, in schools, shopping malls, in universities etc. A strict ban will stop the spread of 2nd hand smoke & protect the general public. Smokers are free to indulge in smoking...in their own personal space. It's a shame to see a no-smoking sign up & youths smoking right below it. Ignorant? Or lack of emphasis by the authorities?

4. Continuous education: In my generation there are still many youths smoking. This stems from the idea that smoking is "cool". In university, guys take to smoking in the hostels, tossing used cigarettes in sinks, despite the university emphasizing that smoking is banned. Shame, I thought university students are slightly more intelligent than the common youth. I guess there are varying levels of intelligence eh?

5. Send a clear message: Smoking is bad, folks. The government & society should take more proactive steps to make sure this directive is given & taken. Sorry for tobacco companies but your products aren't welcome here. Smoking brings terrible effects to society, & protecting society is more important than the financial benefits from maintaining the tobacco industry. The RM1.28billion industry is not worth the reduction in Malaysians' quality of life. The government *wait, taxpayers who may not be smokers themselves* subsidizes 90% of healthcare costs in public health centers...We've forked out RM3billion for smoke-related illnesses. Imagine what we could do with RM3BILLION...Gosh my heart aches...

Get real people. Spread the message. I'm sorry if I've offended any of my smoker friends but y'all should know that smoking is downright BAD for you & the people around you. Get tough, get smart & get clean. 

Down with tobacco! Time to snuff out the smoke.

No comments: