Dr Murallitharan explains that people actually have easy access to quit smoking clinics across Malaysia.
SMOKING PROHIBITED: With all forms of eateries becoming no smoking zones, it is hoped to pave the way for more smokers to quit.
Malaysian smokers burned through 11.6 billion sticks of cigarettes, which means a total of RM9.9 billion may have gone up in smoke in 2017
The Penang Consumers Association (CAP) revealed that Malaysian smokers burned through 11,588.7 million sticks of cigarettes, which means a total of RM9.9 billion may have gone up in smoke in 2017. Now with the smoking ban implemented, it is understandable that there will be many more hurdles to go to ensure a successful smoke-free nation.
The last big anti-smoking campaign the government ran was in 2010. Tak Nak Merokok was launched in 2004 with posters, billboards, in print, radio and television air time. However it fizzled out after results proved that the advertising strategy was ineffective.
The Health speaks to Dr. Murallitharan Munisamy, the Medical Director of The National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) to understand the efforts being placed to make it a possibility.
According to the smoking ban, the first six months serves as a grace point to educate the smokers. What do you think can be done in this period to educate the public?
“The government and the NGOs are already doing their part for this in terms of on-going awareness campaigns. Furthermore, the educational enforcement are launching their own initiative where they go to public areas to address smokers and personally warn them if they do not heed the smoking ban.”
“Meanwhile for the public, they can support the ban by frequenting and sharing information about restaurants that are smoke free i.e. have no ashtrays, have large no smoking signs displayed and no smokers.”
“We are currently running an NCSM and government linked competition called Restoran Bebas Asap Rokok dan Tembakau (#RestartNOW). How it works is the person enters a smoke-free restaurant, they can take pictures of the restaurant and post in on their social media while tagging the hashtag #RestartNOW. There’s also an incentive of RM100 for winners which we announce weekly. We will be running this competition for a year so do take part!”
Restaurant owners have claimed that the smoking ban has affected their revenue. What is your take on this?
“Across many different countries, there has been a lot of evidence which clearly points out how revenues have been unaffected by the smoking ban in restaurants.”
“Two very clear examples is Australia and in the UK. Smoking was banned in all restaurants including pubs and bars in both countries. Contrary to all belief and the outcry from the tobacco industry as well as restaurant/pub/bars, revenues increased. Quite a lot in fact. So it disproves clearly in the long run that smoking ban has affected revenue. For sure, there will be a short term slowdown while readjustment is going ahead.”
Not many Malaysians are aware of smoking clinics. Is NCSM aware of this and if so, what steps are being taken to create an awareness that help is out there?
“Actually, every government clinic has an MQuit service – which is the official smoking cessation service and is available all across Malaysia. It is being advertised and NCSM has its own MQuit clinic as well.”
“All you need to do is to walk in to any government clinic all across Malaysia. We are running more awareness campaigns on this as well.”
10% of primary school children have already taken onto smoking. What is NCSM doing to combat this statistics?
“Children are picking up smoking from their parents and peers. Easy access to cigarettes does not help the numbers either since you can purchase ‘rokok batang’ at any small convenience stores.”
“NCSM has the biggest school-cessation programme for secondary school children which gets them to quit smoking; this programme which runs for 6 months. This is our 4th year into the programme and we cover a few thousands students via the programme. However we are limited by our resources. At the moment, we are planning to run the programme in primary schools as well with aid from our partners.”
What is the step by step program for smokers at the smoking clinic?
Here are the few steps that you will undergo:
• Be assessed on your smoking level
• Given Counselling and depending on your smoking level; access to certain medications to help you quit
• Frequent visits to review your status and your condition with upgrading or downgrading of medications. — The Health Actually, every government clinic has an MQuit service — which is the official smoking cessation service and is available all across Malaysia. It is being advertised and NCSM has its own MQuit clinic as well.”
The Pink Table Project website is where you can look for healthier alternatives from popular restaurants around town.
Beat cancer, eat well
The Pink Table Project finding its footing in Malaysia, in support for World Cancer Day 2019 The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that 40% of all cancers could be prevented through wellness management. And for most of us, to be well is to eat well. Because we understand that fresh and healthy ingredients can only make us better and healthier.
The idea to incorporate good food with the prevention of cancer started back in 2016 during World Cancer Day. It started as an awareness and fundraising campaign to support a South Africa’s cancer beneficiary in cancer detection.
The idea grew further. On World Cancer Day 2017, the Pink Table Project decided to branch into Lebanon, supporting its Children’s Cancer Centre (CCCL). They also added a new focus created to inspire sustainable change for prevention, which was called the #IFoundHealthy Campaign. This campaign was simply a request for restaurants to showcase their healthier menu options on World Cancer Day and help us prove that healthier eating is an exciting, decadent & delicious experience, whilst at the same time assisting in raising funds.
A halt in the plan The people involved in Pink Table wanted to excite people into making healthier lifestyle choices. They did succeed with exposure to healthier food options, but had failed to raise the funds anticipated.
They had 46 host restaurants in Lebanon & 75 in South Africa, each providing healthier menu choices, whilst facilitating fund-raising. However, the system of cash collection left a lot to be desired. They needed a system that allowed for easy direct donations to their beneficiaries, but could still be monitored the value of.
So in 2018, the campaign had to be put on hold. What they needed was a website that could cater to the masses, one that made sense and was easy to navigate, whilst creating sustainable excitement & financial support 365 days a year, not just on World Cancer Day.
2019 is the year
This year marks the revival of The Pink Table Project. It is now an international online restaurant guide, with the primary focus being the #IFoundHealthy campaign.
The campaign which highlights the healthier options on any restaurant’s menu. The campaign has now spread its wings to various countries, with notable ones being South Africa, Australia, Canada, Ghana, Singapore, and Malaysia.
In celebration of this year’s World Cancer Day, the Pink Table will officially launch in Malaysia, providing
Malaysians with ‘The Pink Menu’.
The website will be a culmination of various popular eateries in Malaysia – providing insight into each restaurants perspective of healthy and showcasing all of their healthier alternatives. — The Health
#IFoundHealthy campaign has now spread its wings to various countries, with notable ones being South Africa, Australia, Canada, Ghana, Singapore, and Malaysia.
I am and I will
This year’s World Cancer Day focuses on the individual and the larger group of people to stand against the tyranny of cancer
World Cancer Day was born on February 4, 2000 at the World Summit Against Cancer for the New Millennium in Paris. The Paris Charter aims to promote research, prevent cancer, improve patient services, raise awareness and mobilise the global community to make progress against cancer, and includes the adoption of World Cancer Day.
The idea was given life through partnerships, cooperation, and understanding among world leaders and health organisations around the world, and has since become the main driving force against cancer for various countries.
The theme for this year’s World Cancer Day encourages us to be more proactive in early detection, treatment, and de-stigmatisation of cancer. The campaign will be carried out for 3 years, focusing on individuals as well as corporations to step up and lend a hand against cancer.
This year will be the year to empower the call-to-action, urging for personal commitment and representing the power of individual action taken now to impact the future. Healthy food makes all the difference
EAT WELL: Healthy food and better diet can be a potent preventive measure against cancer, as well as a plethora of other diseases.
There is a stark need to address the psychology of cancer awareness and prevention by delivering a message that ensures sustainable impact. To achieve this, we need to educate with experiences of the senses that delivers excitement and desire for more.
Education is impactful if driven by sensory experiences. If we can tap into this concept, we will see better results in lifestyle management as people will want to change, not feel they have to change.
The success of this message can affect the change that may result in 5 to 9 million cancer cases from ever even existing, and potentially saving 3 to 5 million lives each year, just by inspiring people to make healthy lifestyle choices by providing exciting educational experiences.
Prevention includes not only Not Smoking, Reduced Alcohol Consumption, and Increased Exercise, but also a Healthy and Balanced Diet.
Inspiring healthy lifestyle and dietary choices by making healthy exciting, decadent & delicious! We can’t focus on all lifestyle management choices, but we can certainly start with diet!