Dr M. Murallitharan
Once in a while, you will get the opportunity to do something good for society. This week, members of the Dewan Rakyat will have this wonderful opportunity – by supporting the Tobacco Control Bill. Whether they avail themselves of it, however, is yet to be seen.
As a health advocate, I have a resolute duty to advocate to my representatives, my members of Parliament as to why they should support the tobacco bill. So, please allow me the opportunity to use this forum over the next coming days to: i) share my arguments on why they should favour the bill; and ii) counter the arguments of those who are opposed to it.
One of the core duties of an elected representative is to assist in providing for the maximum welfare of his constituents from every aspect- social, economic, and financial; in short ensuring they have the best quality of life possible.
Everyone is concerned about their health, and the health of their loved ones. Covid-19 has ensured that health remains paramount in all our minds. So the question that most constituents have now started asking is: What is my elected representative doing for ‘my’ health?
This is exactly why in many constituencies, elected representatives have been leading programmes for health screening, Covid-19 testing and vaccination efforts.
The adage prevention is better than cure has been proven most recently on the Covid-19 battleground. Prevention of Covid-19, whether through risk-mitigating public health strategies or vaccination works. The science has been accurate on this.
So, support the science and the evidence. The harmful effects of tobacco on our population have been well-documented. For the first time, however, you will be in a position to do something about it by supporting the Tobacco Control Bill.
Most importantly, through this bill you will also be able to largely prevent our next generation from being subject to a whole host of diseases.
Not sure about giving your support to the bill because you have constituents who smoke? The thing is only 21% of your constituents are smokers.
Therefore, the majority of constituents will view positively your support for the bill. Interestingly, even among the 21% who smoke, the majority voice strong support for tobacco control measures that will limit their children or loved ones from utilising tobacco products. These are the opinion polls that you need to capitalise on.
Other constituents who view the bill positively include healthcare professionals, who number in the hundreds of thousands in this country, as well as parents of young children. Equally important are Malaysians who suffer from diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer.
So, will you help save the lives of your constituents, especially the children by supporting this Tobacco Control Bill?
Resource: Free Malaysia Today (FMT)