Bandar Kuching MP, SUPP in smoking ban tit-for-tat

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, Jan 27: Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) and its Youth chief, Michael Tiang, were today told not to deflect the smoking-ban delay issue and the state government’s attempt to mislead the public on this matter.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii again questioned why there was a need to implement the ban only on March 1, 2019, when the relevant authorities and stakeholders had their meeting on Jan 9 this year.

He argued that there was no reason the implementation could not be done earlier, like on Feb 1. He said Sabah also had a similar meeting on Jan 9 and they decided to implement the ban on Feb 1.

 Dr Yii pointed out that the main enforcement, including the issuance of summons, would be done by the Health Ministry, as they have the authority to do so under the Control of Tobacco Product (Amendment) Regulations 2018 under the Food Act 1983.

“They have been briefed and engaged since last year itself and are ready to enforce on smokers if they break the rule in the eateries and also those who do not display signboards in coffee shops. 


“The local council jurisdiction is only on the renewal of licensing of eateries, where the council can set requirements for the smoking ban and notices, etc,” he said.

He added that the educational enforcement period could be used to inform and educate more members of the public about the implementation of this policy and its benefits to them. 

“So, SUPP and the state government are not only trying to mislead the public in terms of our autonomous powers in the matter but also to create a fake perception of autonomy, when there is none, by delaying the implementation at the expense of the health and security of the public in Sarawak.

“While we understand the concerns of smokers, this ban, in the long term, will show good benefits to the people to curb the health hazards of smoking,” he said. 

Citing the National Health Morbidity Survey, Dr Yii said there had been an increase in the prevalence of smokers in Sarawak from 22.3 per cent in 1996 to 25.4 per cent in 2015. The national figure is 22.8 per cent.

 “What is even more worrying is that the problem of smoking among school students in Sarawak is one of the highest in Malaysia, at 19.6 per cent compared to the national average of 11.5 per cent. Some 65 per cent of these students started smoking as early as 14 years old. 

“In Sarawak, lung cancer is the third highest form of cancer and 85 per cent of such cases are due to the smoking,” said Dr Yii.— DayakDaily