Malaysia urged to stop all forms of cigarette sponsorship

By The Star | Source: News Desk
The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) has called for a comprehensive ban on the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products to prevent more smoking-related deaths.

Its deputy president Dr Mymoon Alias said the ban was the theme for World No Tobacco Day, which is marked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its global partners today.

She stressed that the ban was crucial as it would have a direct effect on the supply-demand chain.

“Studies have shown that banning advertisements and promotions is one of the most effective methods of reducing the number of new and current smokers,” Mymoon told reporters yesterday.

According to WHO, tobacco use kills nearly six million people every year, while countries that have introduced the ban are already seeing an average of 7 per cent reduction in tobacco use.

Mymoon said some 35 per cent of deaths in Malaysia were linked to smoking and a 2011 survey showed there were 4.75 million (23.1 per cent) smokers in Malaysia, with the average adult smoking 14 cigarettes a day.

Thirty per cent of the 13 to 15-year-olds surveyed had tried smoking while 18.2 per cent of them were smokers. It also found that 48.7 per cent of teenagers were exposed to second-hand smoke at home, while 47.6 per cent had either one or both parents who were smokers.

“Alarmingly, 53.4 per cent of teenagers surveyed reported they had no problem purchasing cigarettes,” she said.

Council secretary-general Shaari Ahmad Junid said he hoped to see a standalone Bill on tobacco control, which has been delayed for a decade, tabled in Parliament soon.

He said the council would present a resolution and declaration to the Government after holding its Ban Advertisement, Promotion and Sponsorship of Tobacco Conference next month.

“We will also consider pushing the Bill through via a Private Members’ Bill if it is not tabled by next year,” he said.

Fomca deputy president Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah said enforcement efforts were also weak, adding that a good example would be the availability of cigarettes for sale in night markets despite it being prohibited.

He also urged the Government to provide NGOs with more support, especially in terms of funding anti-smoking campaigns.