Thought of the day

I thank whatever gods may be / For my unconquerable soul. / I am the master of my fate / I am the captain of my soul. ~William Ernest Henley, Invictus

Government's promises are like the Ringgit, they depreciate with time.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Say No to Passive Smoking

Returned to my hometown today. The ride back wasn't smooth: Had to wait 2 hours at Larkin Bus Terminal for the bus...Aahh, they have change the schedule again...fortunately the fare was not raised despite the recent hike in petrol and diesel. The bus station really needs a facelift after more than a decade in operation. If it is possible, I think it's time to install air conditioner so that the passengers can wait for their rides more comfortably indoor. Moreover, it will thwart the people from inhaling the hazardous exhaust fumes while waiting for the buses. And indirectly, the smokers can only smoke outdoors which again will hinder the innocence from being victimised by some inconsiderate die-hard puffers and contract lung cancer. (Johor State government and Ministry of Health, please take note.)

I was wondering how the livings on two lands separated by a strait not further than 2 kilometres can behave (and live) so differently. Back in Singapore, the public transport is practical the only transport needed by the people. It is nothing but efficient, punctual and convenient (even switching between different lines, unlike transiting from PUTRA to STAR and vice versa in KL). Not to say that there aren't many vehicles on the road, but I just don't see any (especially buses and lorries) releasing black cloudy fumes like those on Malaysian roads. Somehow, I feel that the air has less pollutant as compared back home.

In Singapore, smoking area is very constricted in public. At bus stands, you don't see smokers drawing in a mouthful of nicotine and harmane and simply breathe out ambient smoke in the face of others like nobody's business. At least they stay away from the public. In food courts or restaurants, only 10 percent of the seats are allocated for cigarette lovers located in specific areas outlined in yellow boxes. Of course, the seats are far apart from the non-smokers. Public toilets? Strictly no smoking. The universities adopt the smoke-free campus concept...etc. And, you don't see cigarette butts strewn all over the ground.

The problem in Malaysia is that there is no specific place for the smokers to get their fixes, so they smoke everywhere! In kopitiam, restaurants, bus stations, along the road, parks, schools, universities, public toilets...etc. Merrily mingling with the innocent non-smokers who had to endure the secondhand smoke. I believe most of you have had the experiences of walking into a smoke-filled toilet after watching a movie, don't you? It feels like a freaking gas chamber. Well, that's not all. The latest trend now is that the express bus drivers would smoke while driving with justification stating that smoking keeps them awake. And so, now the passengers are threaten to succumb to their sordid act just to fulfill their addiction. Why should we tolerate this kind of Nazism?

There was once while I was waiting for a train to Singapore, this Malay guy sat beside me and immediately started lighting a cigarette. I pardoned his ignorance, but felt unjust to be a passive smoker. So, I gently tapped on his shoulder and politely advised him to smoke elsewhere as there are others who are also annoyed by the smoke just like me. He replied scarcastically,"Biarlah, aku suka rokok di mana pasal aku. You tak suka, edarlah!" And in the end, I have to forsake my seat just to move away from the inconsiderate, selfish retard.

Note that annually the Ministry of Health is forking out billions of Ringgit in treating smoking-related disease. As of Nov 2007, it is reported that sufferers of smoking-related diseases had burnt a RM3.5 billion hole in the government's healthcare services and unless preventive measures are taken, 2010 will see a staggering RM3.8 billion in expenditure to treat patients suffering from these diseases. Note that the Ministry of Health receives RM7 billion funding annually and half of it being spent on smoking-related diseases. Obviously, this is not a wise way to make use of our budget (taxpayers money) as the adage goes, “Prevention is better than cure." And, raising the cigarette tax doesn't make sense anymore since the money was channeled back to the tobacco users.

Astonishingly, I do not see any effort from the government to reduce the smokers’ population in our country except for the conventional campaigns and rise in cigarette price. Apparently, these conventional approaches are not effective as the population of smokers continues to soar higher from year to year and the relevant authority needs to realize this as early as possible and come up with creative solutions or even iron fist enforcement to reduce the prevalence of ever and current smokers. (e.g: Smoking in public places has now been banned in the United Kingdom, As of July 1st 2007.)

Apart from reducing the prevalence of smoking habits among Malaysians, I am more concern about actions to save the impeccants from the environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). The impact of inhaling the secondhand smoke (SHS) is fatal, lung cancer, breast cancer, premature birth, heart attack, negative effects on the development of cognition and behaviour, to name a few. As such, I personally view smokers who smoke in public disregarding the health and comfort of others as murderers! Yes, especially those who does it in the presence of their friends, families and love ones. So if your boyfriend or girlfriend, daddy or mummy, sons or daughters smoke in front of you, ask yourself, "Do they really love you?"

I urge the Ministry of Health and the relevant parties to develop more structured and systematic measures or acts to protect the health-conscious ones from being victimized by the tobacco users. Please create an SHS free environment so that anyone can step up against those who disrespect the public's health like the guy I mentioned above.

Say No to Smoking! Say No to Secondhand Smoke!

1 comment:

gnap said...

your 3rd paragraph sounds like heaven!!

Its true, here, u wanna have a peaceful meal at hawker oso very difficult. Half the time a smoker(s) will plant themselve in the next table and SELFISHLY puff away. Suffocating, choking, killing us. #&*^@#$