PUTRAJAYA – The public must comply with the smoking prohibition in addition to the standard operation procedure (SOP) for COVID-19, particularly at eateries and open spaces, to prevent complications from smoking and COVID-19 infection.
“This is to ensure the welfare of oneself and those around,” said Health deputy director-general (Public Health) Datuk Dr Chong Chee Kheong in his speech at the National Tobacco Control Conference 2020 held online today.
Chong said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had released a warning that smokers infected with COVID-19 were at a higher risk of getting serious complications.
“In the COVID-19 pandemic, the evidence suggests that smoking is associated with increased severity of diseases and death in hospitalised COVID-19 patients,” he added.
Chong said the Health Ministry had gazetted all eateries, whether air-conditioned or not, as non-smoking places under the Control of Tobacco Product (Amendment) Regulations 2018 since Jan 1, 2019, but the compliance rate dropped markedly after the introduction of the Movement Control Order.
“There were complaints related to smoking at eateries through the Ministry of Health’s hotline and the complaints received have risen since the Recovery Movement Control Order, enforced since June 10,” he said.
Chong said the Health Ministry was working on strengthening all obligations outlined, including those under Article 8 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, to protect non-smokers from the dangers of cigarette smoke or any other smoking products.