Doctor: RM1Mil Should Fund Quit-Smoking Services, Not Smoking Areas

Will tobacco companies be paying for the designated smoking zones?

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — Physicians have expressed outrage at Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin’s plan to set up sheltered designated smoking zones nationwide, including outside restaurants.

Respiratory specialist Dr Helmy Haja Mydin pointed out that half of smokers want to quit.

“Isn’t it good for the RM1 million allocation to go towards helping them quit smoking and not to encourage this addiction?” Dr Helmy tweeted, referring to the Housing and Local Government Ministry’s RM1 million allocation for 155 local councils nationwide to set up designated smoking zones.

The Health Ministry provides free quit-smoking services through its JomQuit programme.

Psychiatrist Dr Amer Siddiq slammed Zuraida for wanting to build “luxury” designated smoking areas in public, complete with a seat, shelter, and ashtray.

He also noted that restaurant owners were reluctant to spend their own money to construct smaller designated smoking areas three metres away from their premises on public land.

“I suppose RM1 million will turn into RM2 million? If it’s not us, ie: taxpayers, who are paying, will tobacco companies pay?” Dr Amer Siddiq tweeted.

Nephrologist Dr Rafidah Abdullah told the government to turn the entire country into a no-smoking zone except for Housing and Local Government Ministry “areas”.

“We’ll call it ‘lung cancer breeding grounds’.”

Graphic designer activist also made fun of the Housing and Local Government Ministry’s plan to set up designated smoking areas.

Zuraida yesterday announced that local councils nationwide could apply for funding from her federal ministry to build sheltered smoking zones in public areas like food courts and commercial places.

She also told restaurant owners to bear the costs of setting up smaller designated smoking areas with canopies three metres away from their premises, based on guidelines by the Housing and Local Government Ministry that have yet to be released.

Various countries like Japan, Italy, India, Poland, and South Africa reportedly permit lighting up in designated smoking areas in restaurants and bars.

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