The World No Tobacco Day observed worldwide every May 31 has received minimal response, with survey around the capital showing that the public was unaware of the day and its theme. Visits by Bernama to Bukit Bintang and its surrounding areas revealed people were still engaging in their usual smoking habits, contrary to the 24-hour abstinence period the celebration propagated.
A worker at a chicken rice restaurant, Hanafi Yaakob, 25, said he was a heavy smoker and only knew of the celebration after being asked by reporters to give an opinion on the matter.
“Even after knowing about it, I cannot imagine living without cigarettes for a day to support the campaign,” he said.
A 30-year-old sales promoter, Wong Chee Hiong, attributed the lack of response to insufficient publicity.
“This campaign is not carried out seriously. There are no promotions in the papers or electronic media which is why people ignore it,” he said, adding that he was unaware of the celebrations and would continue to smoke.
Meanwhile, the survey also found that the ban on 14-stick cigarette packs was unable to overcome addiction among Malaysians.
Private college student, Joseph Wee Tong Hang, 20, said heavy smokers would continue to buy regardless of the rise in the price of cigarettes.
“It is no wonder they are willing to spend so much money for a puff,” he said.
Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai had stated that the number of smokers in the country, including women, had reached a critical level.
World No Tobacco Day was celebrated for the first time in 1987 and has been recognised by the World Health Organisation. It is observed annually and aims to inform the global community of the danger and effects cigarettes have on health.