Parliament: Smoking issuesPosted: December 1, 2008
There were a couple of points about smoking and cigarettes that were brought up in Parliament today.
As usual, MP Titiwangsa (Dr Lo Lo) was hard against smoking. I didn’t really catch the beginning, but she was talking about how our sporting tournaments and others are being sponsored by tobacco companies, like Malboro and such, and how this should not happen. She mentioned that countries that are very advanced in sports have mengharamkan this kind of sponsorship, and it follows that there are no giant billboards advertising tobacco companies. Her example was Australia.
MP Parit Buntar (Dr Mujahid Yusuf Rawa) suggested that the National Fatwa Council do something about this. He said that although there is currently a fatwa against smoking, but because it is not gazetted, the people will continue smoking as they know they will not be caught. So he says that the NFC should come up with a fatwa, and gazette is as soon as possible.
MP Wangsa Maju (Wee Choo Keong) said that he has not seen any of the TV campaigns sending the message of the ills of smoking. I’m guessing that it’s the “Tak Nak” campaign that he’s talking about. He says that it has been quite a while since he’s seen those commercials (public service announcement would be more appropriate) on TV.
MP Parit Buntar goes on to say that it is actually not enough that we ‘tell’ the people not to smoke. The government has to be proactive in initiating langkah-langkah to curb the industry all together. He mentions that the cigarettes these days come in all sorts of ‘exotic’ flavours like strawberry, and these appeal to the younger generation (he said kanak-kanak) and womenfolk, and this should stop.
MP Jasin (Ahmad bin Hamzah) came into the picture pretty late, but he said he was speaking from his personal experience, that the issue with smoking is not about whether one can afford it, but about habit, tabiat. He says that those who are smoking the most are those who are fishermen and labourers.
He also argues that the tobacco industry brings pendapatan lumayan to the country, and states some statistics about how many packets of cigarettes are being sold daily, and all that. He was met with a lot of boos on this point
Then he also compares prices of cigarettes in Malaysia which are at RM9, to those sold in Singapore, which are at $13. So he says that in order to deter smokers, the price for cigarettes should be increased drastically. MP Titiwangsa stood up to agree “200%”.
I’ve heard stories from my friends about their friends. Boys/Men my age (20-ish) chain-smoking, but having not even more than RM10 in their wallets at any one time. So then how do they get the cigarettes? Well, they steal. Or shoplift, whichever term suits you better. At times, they manage to get so many packets out of the shops that they actually ‘distribute’ their spoils to other friends. So in a way, I agree that smoking is that of habit, not so much about affordability.
But for those who dare not do such things, raising the price of tobacco will be a great deterrent. That too, I agree. My dad started smoking from the legal age of 18, and has never looked back. Until the year he came to NZ, where cigarettes were expensive. Not only that, he couldn’t smoke just anywhere and everywhere, because there are strict laws about where one can light a cigarette. He found it too fussy to need to look for a place where he could smoke “in peace”, and so he quit, cold turkey. And that was after years of ‘resolving’ to quit.
MP Parit Buntar suggests that we start a new culture. We say najis dadah and najis rasuah, so why not start saying najis rokok as well.