KUCHING (April 9): The government should consider making smoking and vaping as part of Syariah offence to prohibit Muslims in the country from such unhealthy activity, said Dr Muzaffar Syah Mallow.
The associate professor of Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia Faculty of Syariah and Law said his suggestion ought to be seen part of the government’s ongoing efforts to eradicate smoking within the society especially among the Muslims.
“The harm of smoking comes from the many toxic chemicals in the natural tobacco leaf and those formed in smoke from burning tobacco. According to many researches, about half of smokers die from a smoking-related cause. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body,” he said in a statement today.
Muzaffar said many studies had pointed out that smoking led to most diseases affecting the heart, liver, and lungs such as heart diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, cancers of the larynx and mouth and pancreatic cancer.
He added that the World Health Organization estimated that tobacco had killed eight million people each year since 2019 and recorded 100 million deaths over the course of the 20th century.
He noted that the use of e-cigarettes had been linked with damage to the lungs, cardiovascular system as well as the brain.
He said a 2022 study by several Western researchers found that frequent inhalation of the vapors in e-cigarettes had a positive correlation with the frequency and severity of asthma and obstructive lung disease.
The same study also found a positive correlation between the usage of e-cigarettes and medical conditions such as myocardial infarctions, coronary artery disease and strokes, he said.
“In regards to the brain, the vapors in e-cigarettes can cause damage to the neurons in developing brains. This can impair the decision-making process leading to more frequent impulse decisions,” he added.
He recalled that the Fatwa Committee of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs of Malaysia had on March 23, 1995 discussed the issue on “Smoking from the view of Islam” and agreed to decide “Smoking is forbidden in Islam because in it there is harm”.
“Though Islam has clearly explained the danger of smoking and vaping through the Fatwa but there are still Muslims in the country who take the issue lightly.
“As such, drastic step needs to be taken by the government on this issue. This can be easily done by having a clear and proper legislation on this point namely by making smoking and vaping as Syariah offence.
At present, Muzaffar said the country has Syariah Offences Act and enactments which stipulate many Syariah crimes but nothing specific on smoking and vaping.
He said the only part on smoking is under Section 15 on the offence for being disrespectful during the holy month of Ramadan.
“Section 15 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 [Act 559] clearly states that ‘Any person who during the hours of fasting in the month of Ramadan (a) sells to any Muslim any food, drink, cigarette or other form of tobacco for immediate consumption during such hours; or (b) openly or in a public place is found to be eating, drinking or smoking, shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both, and for a second or subsequent offence to a fine not exceeding two thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both’,” he pointed out.
He said it would be much better if Malaysia can insert specific section in the Syariah criminal offences to make smoking and vaping an offence.
He added that this aimed at sending a strong message to everybody especially the Muslims in the country about the danger and the prohibition of smoking and vaping.