MUST SPEAK UP

New Straits Times - - News -

pros­per­ity for all. Al­though it may sound lofty, each goal has tar­gets to be achieved by 2030.

SDG 11 is to “make cities and hu­man set­tle­ments in­clu­sive, safe, re­silient and sus­tain­able”. The goal spec­i­fies an added im­pe­tus for women and chil­dren, older per­sons and those with dis­abil­i­ties, such as those who are at risk of hav­ing their rights over­looked.

These rights in­clude the right to to­bacco smoke-free air. WHO’s Frame­work Con­ven­tion for To­bacco Con­trol, which Malaysia rat­i­fied in 2005, re­quires that coun­tries make pub­lic and work places 100 per cent smoke-free. Un­for­tu­nately, we still come across many in­stances of non­com­pli­ance.

For ex­am­ple, non-air-con­di­tioned restau­rants are still not smoke-free and there are a num­ber of of­fices that skirt around the is­sue. In fact, four in 10 adults who work in­doors in Malaysia are ex­posed to to­bacco smoke at the work­place.

There is al­ways a huge out­cry by small es­tab­lish­ments that a ban on smok­ing in pub­lic places will af­fect their busi­ness. Sim­i­lar protests were heard when the United King­dom banned smok­ing in work­places in 2007, but such fears were proven to be un­founded. In fact, there are hardly any in­stances across the world where a food and bev­er­age out­let has gone bust be­cause of a smoke-free area, and some even have more clien­tele.

A louder out­cry should be made by the ma­jor­ity of the pub­lic who are not smok­ers and who are con­stantly as­sailed by cancer-caus­ing agents that fill the air. We should raise the deci­bels when it comes to en­sur­ing that ir­re­spon­si­ble par­ents do not smoke in cars with chil­dren, in­con­sid­er­ate va­p­ing is not done in the pres­ence of preg­nant women, and that in­dis­crim­i­nate to­bacco smoke does not cause an asthma at­tack.

The theme for World No To­bacco Day, which is to­day, is “To­bacco — a threat to devel­op­ment”. It is high time the rest of us high­light the health and eco­nomic con­se­quences of smok­ing in pub­lic. It is only when the silent ma­jor­ity re­main silent no longer that there will be more com­pul­sion to pro­tect our right to clean air.

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