[IMHO] As A Mother, This Is Why I Think Smoking Should Not Be A Criminal Offence

I'm very hopeful that my child will be smoke-free soon.

Cover image via Rattanakun thongbun / Vecteezy & Possessed Photography / Unsplash

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Reading an article by The Star on the proposed anti-smoking legislation had me applauding our government for their commitment to ensure a healthier future for all Malaysians

To do that, collective commitment is needed to protect the present and future generations from the harms of tobacco.

And the keyword is 'collective commitment' — this commitment doesn't just come from the ministry or other international partners, but also the individuals. Smokers need to understand the harms of tobacco and what can be done to assist them if they can't quit smoking.

However, the recommendations on anti-smoking laws that include the implementation of community service sentences for young offenders caught my attention.

The National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019 estimates that 4.9 million Malaysians aged 15 years and older currently smoke

Disturbingly, 17.4% of boys and girls aged 13 to 15, and 24% of boys and girls aged 15 to 19, currently smoke.

Community service sentences are an alternative punishment to replace prison sentences for minor offences. Imagine these groups of teens being penalised for smoking and having to carry the baggage of a 'crime' record for the rest of their lives.

We all know that smoking is bad and we should help smokers to quit. But why must we equate smoking as an offence? Smoking is a choice, and now, we are penalising people for the choice they make.

Personally, I don't believe in a prohibitionist approach. Gone are the days where this works.

Today, we should embrace the acceptance approach.

Accept the fact that smoking is a choice. Understand why these people smoke and transition them to lead a healthier life. Believe it or not, smokers know that smoking cigarettes is bad, but they just can't help but to continue using them.

As a mum, I have heard this a lot. My child was one of them. At the beginning, it was tough. The more I scolded my child, the more ignorant he became. I then watched a lot of parenting videos and I learned a new way to talk to him — accepting who he was and not penalising him for the choice he made.

I upped my knowledge about smoking and successfully transitioned my child to a less harmful alternative in three months. I'm very hopeful that my child will be smoke-free soon.

So, I plead with the government to think thoroughly about the new anti-smoking law

Don't be prohibitionist, be pragmatic. Do what is needed for the future of our children and the nation.

This story is a personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the position of SAYS.

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