Materia Medica Malaysiana

May 22, 2008

Dangers of smoking ‘underestimated’

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:41 am

NST: PETALING JAYA: The risk of disease and death from smoking is real.
Deputy Health director-general Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat said many underestimated the risk attached to smoking.
He said smokers had the right to be warned about the dangers of cigarettes, just like other people who use hazardous consumer products.
“Well-designed and prominent pictorial warnings on cigarette packs and packages have been shown to increase public awareness of the hazards and provide meaningful information to tobacco users in the most cost-effective manner.”
Dr Ramlee was speaking at the regional meeting on the implementation of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) Article 11 (tobacco packaging and labelling).
“Malaysia is in the advanced stages of amending the Control of Tobacco Products Regulations 2004, making it obligatory for cigarettes sold in Malaysia to carry graphic health warnings.”
He said the target date for implementation was December, which was within the three-year deadline to comply with FCTC Article 11 on “Packaging and Labelling”.
He said the regional meeting in Malaysia was timely as it would help the ministry to learn from countries that had introduced graphic health warnings.
Dr Ramlee said Malaysia had seen momentous improvements in tobacco control, among which were legislative controls over tobacco advertisements and sponsorships, expansion of smoke-free areas, raising of tobacco taxes, nationwide anti-tobacco and health promotion activities and smoking cessation services.
“We believe these efforts have collectively contributed to the two per cent reduction in the overall prevalence of smokers identified during the 3rd National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2006 compared with the same survey 10 years ago.”
South East Asian Tobacco Control Alliance policy adviser and Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) chairman Dr Mary Assunta said the general warning on cigarette packs in Malaysia was already more than 25 years old and no longer served the purpose they were intended for.
She said Malaysia was already exporting cigarettes containing graphic warnings to Thailand, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong.
“Therefore, implementing graphic warnings on Malaysian packs to warn Malaysian smokers can be speedily done by the industry. The government should have no problems implementing this measure.”
Dr Assunta said an advantage in using graphic warnings on cigarette packs was that it did not cost the government anything and was an effective way to educate smokers.

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