Monday, July 01, 2013

Health Ministry mulls shisha ban

GEORGE TOWN (June 30, 2013): The Health Ministry is considering a ban on shisha and other forms of smoking.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the ministry is studying the legal framework for a ban on alternative forms of smoking, including shisha (flavoured tobacco) and e-cigarettes.
"There are two issues here, which is the instrument used for smoking and the compounds used in the instrument," he said.
While it is easy to ban the substances used in alternative smoking, it is a challenge to classify the instrument used.
"In other countries, shisha is mixed with spices. However, the substances used locally are tobacco and sometimes drugs. This is where the problem arises," he said.
Subramaniam said the ministry is looking into the long-term effect of this form of smoking before making a ruling.
Subramaniam said this after visiting his alma mater, Penang Free School, today.
The Perlis Fatwa Committee issued an edict banning the sale and smoking of shisha in the state last week.
The Johor Islamic Religious Council has also supported the move to declare shisha smoking as haram (forbidden in Islam).
In 2011, Malacca and Kelantan banned the sale of shisha.
The Consumers' Association of Penang also called for a ban of e-cigarettes.
Subramaniam said the health ministry will carry out strict enforcement nationwide to tackle the rising number of dengue cases.
"We have to identify hotspots where dengue cases occur and get enforcement teams to supervise the areas," he said, adding that Johor, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur were critical states.
On the issue of federal funds for hospitals in Penang, Subramaniam said the government is fair, "and allocation for health is above politics and is based on needs and demand."
He was responding to calls by the Penang state government to speed up upgrading work at the Penang Hospital and Seberang Jaya Hospital after Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya had announced an allocation of RM20 million to upgrade the Balik Pulau Hospital recently

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