KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — The High Court’s decision in upholding the smoking ban in restaurants will protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke, the Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) said.
The anti-tobacco organisation followed the footsteps of Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad in applauding the High Court’s recent decision to dismiss a challenge by a group of smokers against the smoking ban at eateries nationwide that was imposed since January 1 this year.
“Worldwide, among the six million people killed by tobacco use each year, 600,000 people are non-smokers who were exposed to second-hand smoke,” said MCTC president Dr Lekhraj Rampal in a statement.
“Hundreds of chemicals in second-hand smoke are toxic – even breathing in a little put us at 20 to 30 per cent higher risk of developing heart diseases, stroke, and lung cancer.”
MCTC noted that infants and children are especially vulnerable to second-hand smoke that increases a baby’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and a child’s risk of being sick frequently, asthma attacks, ear infections, and smaller lung growth, leading to bronchitis and pneumonia.
“As a signatory of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC), a treaty that reaffirms everyone’s right to the highest standard of health, Malaysia is obliged to protect all people from exposure to tobacco smoke, as detailed in Article 8,” the statement read.
“This includes indoor places, public transport, and ‘as appropriate, other places’.
National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) medical director Dr M. Murallitharan, who is also MCTC treasurer, said the Federal Constitution did not protect one’s “right to smoke”.
“Smokers do not have special protection, are not a specially protected category of people,” he said.
“Within individual rights, protection of life and health should be prioritised.”
On October 29, a smokers’ group lost a judicial review they filed at the High Court here to challenge a ban on smoking in restaurants.
Justice Mariana Yahya said that the group was misconceived in claiming that the ban had violated their rights.
“They claimed that the ban was against their rights under the Federal Constitution.
“However, they can still smoke outside, three metres or 10 feet outside the premises. There are no laws forbidding the applicant group from smoking in total,” she was quoted saying.