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Smoking: ban all forms of tobacco

Nik Mohamed, Mohamad Haniki (2011) Smoking: ban all forms of tobacco. New Straits Times. ISSN 01266675

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REFER to reports calling for a ban on shisha smoking and wonder if we are missing the bigger picture. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death. According to the World Health Organisation, more than five million people will die from tobacco-related heart attacks, strokes, cancer, lung ailments or other diseases this year. That does not include the more than 600,000 people -- more than a quarter of them children -- who will die from exposure to second-hand smoke. The annual death toll from the global epidemic of tobacco use could rise to eight million by 2030. Having killed 100 million people in the 20th century, tobacco use could kill one billion in the 21st century. A recent study by Sirirassamee T, et al., (Southeast Asia J Trop Med Public Health, 2011) found that about five per cent of Malaysian adolescents were smokers and an additional 8.6 per cent were beginner smokers. Alarmingly, 68.3 per cent reported that they bought the cigarettes themselves, especially from convenience stores (44.6 per cent) and street vendors (16.8 per cent). It is obvious that anyone here can sell cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors with little or no enforcement of the law. Why are manufactured cigarettes and other tobacco products still loosely regulated and largely exempted from any safety standards? Case in point, other products containing nicotine, such as nicotine gum or patch sold in pharmacies for smoking cessation purposes, are tightly regulated as Group C poisons by the Malaysian Poisons Board. This means these products can be obtained only under the supervision of qualified health professionals. Wouldn't it make sense that every smoker must also get their nicotine from cigarettes via licensed health professionals? This will ensure that no minor will be able to buy tobacco for themselves or on behalf of others, and the health professionals can, in turn, provide smoking cessation intervention to the smokers. However, it is envisaged that our ethical health professionals will not sell tobacco products. This, in itself, would be a great tobacco control strategy for our country and others to emulate since it will reduce accessibility and promote cessation, in tandem with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which Malaysia is obliged to implement as a signatory. If the authorities are serious about protecting the rakyat from the effects of tobacco, then a ban on all forms of tobacco must be immediately enforced. Some may argue that such a ban will increase smuggling and illicit use of tobacco, incur tax revenue loss and infringe on the rights of the individual. However, these so-called concerns are nothing compared with the costs of treating tobacco-related diseases and the premature loss of life. No human being has the right to expose and force others to inhale toxic and carcinogenic chemicals present in tobacco smoke. So, are we really serious about comprehensive control of tobacco or merely banning selected tobacco products? Let's not wait till another life is taken or another child is hooked on tobacco before we decide that enough is enough. Tobacco kills, no ifs or buts about it. The only logical thing to do is to get rid of it. Now that would be putting people first.

Item Type: Article (Newspaper)
Additional Information: 5123/18362
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Kulliyyahs/Centres/Divisions/Institutes (Can select more than one option. Press CONTROL button): Kulliyyah of Pharmacy > Department of Pharmacy Practice
Depositing User: Professor Dr. Mohamad Haniki Nik Mohamed
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2012 18:05
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2012 14:19
URI: http://irep.iium.edu.my/id/eprint/18362

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