Kick the habit, deputy minister advises smokers in health ministry

The health ministry wants to encourage smokers to give up their smoking habit and lead a healthy lifestyle.

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye has confirmed that male staff at the health ministry’s headquarters in Putrajaya were screened for smoking today.

Lee however stressed that none of the staff will be forced to enrol in any programmes to quit smoking and no action will be taken against them if they refused assistance.

“We cannot take action but we’ll advise them. It’s not under our jurisdiction to forbid people from smoking.

“But we will do whatever we can to encourage healthy lifestyles and to assist them in whatever possible way to quit smoking,” he told reporters outside the Dewan Rakyat today.

It was reported by The Star that health ministry staff found to be smoking will be requested to join a programme to help quit smoking.

The test conducted was said to have involved a dental check and a breath test which could detect the presence of carbon monoxide.

Lee said the goal of the screening was to offer assistance in reducing or quitting smoking, if possible.

He dismissed claims that the test that was conducted only on men was sexist, highlighting that the majority of smokers in Malaysia were male.

“I think we’re looking at a three to one ratio, so that’s where we’re focusing.

“This is just more of targeting. It’s not about stereotyping or being sexist; it’s about those who are more vulnerable.

“If there are women smokers, I think the colleagues will know and they will be assisted,” he said when asked why women were not screened.

He encouraged other workplaces to organise similar programmes for staff to encourage them to lead a healthy lifestyle and to quit smoking.