The ministry of health says it will consider a ban on smoking in public places to minimise chronic diseases that come with the practice.
Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume made the remarks in reaction to findings by the World Health Organization (WHO) which show that public smoking is becoming extra hazardous to non-smokers in countries like Malawi where the practice is still unrestricted.
Kumpalume suggested that it is high time the country implemented laws restricting public smoking.
”I am aware of such problems and my suggestion is that it’s time we start strategizing on implementing laws to ban public smoking in the country. It is my belief that, that way we will minimize problems [that comes with public smoking],” he said.
Kumpalume also expressed worry over the rise in the practice especially in private homes saying it puts at risk the lives of family members who are non-smokers.
“My worry is that the practice has gone as far as in private homes. That extent will however be very difficult to restrict the same but laws have to be implemented,” he added.
According to the WHO report, the smoke that comes from the tip of a cigarette is more dangerous than the smoke puffed by the smoker.
People exposed to smoke from the tip of the cigarette may be prone to numerous diseases such as lung cancer.
Malawi is one of world’s main tobacco growers but it is yet to implement laws illegalizing public smoking thus some avid smokers are still carelessly smoking in public places.
In random interviews across Mzuzu city on Saturday, most people encouraged government to implement laws that will restrict public smoking. They said that public smoking is also more dangerous to people suffering from other respiratory diseases like asthma.
“When they smoke some of us suffering from asthma really feel panicky and usually it is bad and I echo government decision to ban the practice,” said Jane Mkandawire.
Another resident, Armstrong Banda, emphasized that public smoking is not that good to non-smokers as regards the findings which indicate that they are the ones at a great disadvantage.
However, others suggested that the smokers have the right to smoke wherever they want.
“In times like these where everyone has the right to do whatever he enjoys, it will somehow be violating the rights of smokers to restrict public smoking. Government should just leave them,” said David Chirwa.
Meanwhile the ministry of health in the country has maintained that smoking is more hazardous to life thus smokers must continue smoking at their own risk.