Materia Medica Malaysiana

January 14, 2007

Don’t smoke, your kid’s in the car

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 3:21 pm

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: In a move to further safeguard children from passive smoking, smokers will be prohibited from lighting up in cars when the young are present.
Even parents will not be exempted when they are sharing a car with their children.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said these were among the provisions looked into by the ministry under the proposed Tobacco Bill.
It is learnt that the Bill would be tabled in Parliament by year-end.
“We are going to be very stringent. The aim is not only to protect the non-smoking population but children as well,” Dr Chua said.
Studies show that second-hand smoke in a vehicle is 23 times more toxic than in a house because of the confined space.
Several countries already have laws in place or are formulating laws towards this goal. These include Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Britain and several states in the United States.
The fines for a first-time offender will range from RM150 to RM400.
According to the British Medical Journal, babies and children exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS or passive smoking) are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer as adults.
It said children exposed to passive smoking daily and for many hours were the most vulnerable.
They face over three times the risk compared with those growing up in smoke-free environment.
Children exposed to passive smoking a few times a week are almost 1.45 times more likely to develop lung cancer, and those exposed daily but not for many hours faced twice the risk.
In New Zealand, researchers said such laws were needed after a study found that being enclosed in a car with a smoker, even with the windows fully wound down, was equivalent to sitting in a smoky bar.
Child exposure to ETS also revealed a higher incidence of asthma cases, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome in babies.
Dr Chua said under the proposed Tobacco Bill, more places would be gazetted as non-smoking areas.
He did not say whether this would include banning adults from smoking at home when children were present.
The tabling of the Bill had taken some time as the ministry had to consider many aspects for effective implementation.
“We want to have a set of laws that is really effective in preventing the young from smoking and safeguarding the rights of non-smokers.”
Asked whether the reason for the introduction of tougher laws was because Malaysia was a signatory to the World Health Organisation initiated Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Dr Chua said: “We may be signatories to the framework but we cannot adopt all the measures to curb tobacco use.
“We have to ensure these suit local conditions.”
The FCTC obligates parties to protect present and future generations from the health and economic consequences of tobacco consumption.
The Malaysian Medical Council’s Action on Smoking and Health Committee welcomed the move.
Committee chairman Dr Lekhraj Rampal said smokers should realise that cigarette tobacco contained more than 4,000 chemicals, out of which more than 40 were cancer- causing agents.
“Smoking in confined areas, such as cars, and in front of children is bad parenting. It poses risks to the children,” said Dr Lekhraj.
Yong Check Yoon, the spokesman for National Poison Centre’s Clearing House for Tobacco Control, said it was time the authorities introduced laws to protect children from second-hand smoke.
“Since the space in a car is confined, the chemical residue from the tobacco smoke will get into the cushion and stick to other parts as well.”

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