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“Smokers are not criminals”

 | June 19, 2014

A Penang Umno leader is 'smoking' over smoking ban at highway R&R areas.

rrnrsmoke_300x200GEORGE TOWN: Don’t treat smokers as though they are criminals, especially when the government has been collecting so much tobacco tax from them, said a local Umno leader who is himself a non-smoker.

Penang Umno secretary Musa Sheikh Fadzir said it was ridiculous to ban smoking at open rest and recreational (R&R) areas along the highways across the country.

He said that if the government was serious in wanting to stop Malaysians from smoking then they should close down all cigarette manufacturing plants and ban the import of cigars and cigarettes.

Health Minister Dr. S Subramaniam had announced that all highway R&R areas would be gazetted as “No Smoking” zones by the end of 2014, and offenders would be fined between RM250 to RM500.

The measure is part of the Healthy Ministry’s effort to reduce the number of smokers in the country by 16%.

The Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2011 revealed that 23.1%, or 4.7 million Malaysians, were smokers.

Musa said it was acceptable for the ministry to ban smoking in government buildings, closed door areas and air-conditioned places.

“But not in open R&R areas where smokers stop for a cigarette and release their tobacco addiction before proceeding on their journey.

“It is hypocritical for the government to allow for the sale of cigarettes on one side and then segregating smokers as if they are criminals.

“The sale of cigarettes has allowed the government to collect so much tax from smokers. Just close the cigarette factories and ban sales,” Musa told FMT here today.

He urged the Health Minister to review the latest government ban on smokers and suggests the ministry to study the issue thoroughly before making a decision.

Meanwhile, the Penang government plans to gazette certain city heritage areas as smoke-free zones next month.

Executive councillor in charge of welfare, caring society and environment Phee Boon Poh indicated that core and buffer zones located in the heritage areas will be gazetted as part of an overall plan to make Penang smoke-free.

“There will be no compromise,” Phee who also chairs the Cigarette Smoke-Free Penang (Penbar), told newsmen yesterday.


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