Thursday, June 01, 2006

Cigarettes in small packs banned from today

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The prohibition was to have taken effect on Sept 24, 2004. When the day came, it was put off to Feb 1 last year.
It is now on: The sale of "kiddie pack" cigarettes was banned from today.
Director-General of Health Datuk Dr Ismail Merican said yesterday that the cigarette companies had been notified and they would have to take the seven and 10-a-pack cigarettes off the shelf.
The ban was postponed earlier following appeals from cigarette manufacturers and the Federation of Coffee Shop Owners Association who asked for time to clear their stock.
Dr Ismail told the New Straits Times that his ministry would stay firm in its decision this time as it wanted to discourage Malaysians from smoking.
There are an estimated 3.6 million smokers in the country with about 10,000 people dying annually of diseases linked to smoking, including cancer and stroke.
Health Ministry studies have shown no indication that the number of smokers had gone down since a five-year anti-smoking campaign was launched in February 2004.
In fact, the number of female smokers has doubled.
A National Health Survey 2004 showed that 23.2 per cent of adults smoked.
The Global Youth Tobacco Survey 2003 revealed that 25.3 per cent of youths, of whom 11.2 per cent were girls, smoked.
Dr Ismail said the ministry would intensify efforts to create awareness among Malaysians on the dangers of smoking and to get them to kick the habit.
"We are concerned with the increasing number of teens and women who have picked up the habit," he said.
The ministry is roping in non-governmental organisations in its anti-smoking campaign.
Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control president Professor Dr Syed Mohamed Aljunid hoped the Government would enforce the ban properly to help reduce smoking, especially among children."
He said the Government should consider introducing pictorial warnings of people with lung-related diseases on cigarette packets.
"Such pictures will put people off from smoking," he said.
Dr Syed Mohamed called for more places to be declared smoke-free zones.
He said the council would soon request the Health Ministry to urge the Poisons Board to include nicotine as a poison.
Yesterday was World No Tobacco Day and this year’s theme Tobacco: Deadly in any form or disguise calls attention to the tobacco industry’s lies and to the existence of a great variety of deadly tobacco products.
"The purpose of World No Tobacco Day 2006 is to remove the deceit and unveil the truth behind tobacco products," said Dr Shigeru Omi, World Health Organisation regional director for the Western Pacific.
Tobacco products are deadly in any form, be it cigarettes, pipes, bidis, kreteks (clove cigarettes), chewing tobacco, betel nut used with tobacco or cigars, he said.
Dr Omi called on governments in the Western Pacific Region to enact stronger and wider regulation of tobacco products through rapid implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world’s tobacco-control treaty. Malaysia is a signatory to the convention.

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