Public smoking, a violation of non-smokers’ health rights


In Malawi walking a distance of about 500 meters without inhaling tobacco smoke due to smoking in open places is, for Christian non-smokers, as precious as being told by Christ himself that your sins have been forgiven and forgotten and you are part of Paradise.

The truth is that both the smoker and second-hand smoker are at risk of developing tobacco-related illnesses.

Nelson Zakeyu
Zakeyu: Cigarettes create smoke that has toxic and deadly chemicals.

But the second smoker breathes much of the released smoke.

The tendency of smoking in public places such as markets, roads and stadiums seems to be on the increase in both Malawi’s rural and urban areas.

This has gone to an extent of a 5-year-old boy differentiating smells of a local cigarette and that of marijuana though none of his parents smoke.

It is therefore concluded that most of people in the country are gradually getting used and are ironically accepting the malpractice without knowing the effects of public smoking as said by Jourbert Jere.

“I have been a victim several times when walking in markets and even at stadiums where I go to watch soccer. So it’s on several occasions and it made me to have difficulties in breathing, develop cough and pain in the nostrils due to the strong smell of cigars,” he said in confirmation of being a victim of public smoking.

Director of Drug Fight Malawi Nelson Zakeyu told this reporter that all cigarettes create smoke that has toxic and deadly chemicals.

He said these chemicals are released out from a smoker to people surrounding the smoker who then breathes these chemicals which is known as second-hand smoking.

He said: “The truth is that both the smoker and second-hand smoker are on the risk of developing tobacco-related illnesses. But the second smoker breathe much of the released smoke.”

But why do people smoke in open places? Mathews Banda who had a cigar during the interview at the Blantyre flea market said: “I smoke when I need it because it is the same we do with water. Everyone drinks water when thirsty no matter where you are, so that’s why you see people smoking in public places.”

However, the country’s renowned human rights activist Billy Mayaya has condemned the practice and says smoking in open spaces is a serious public health issue and a gross violation of the right to health of non-smokers.

Mayaya told this reporter that it is discourteous to subject non-smokers, babies and children to secondary smoke. Mayaya said smokers must have designated areas where they can smoke and not subject non-smokers to the risk of respiratory diseases and cancer.

On his part, President of Malawi Congress of Trade Union, Luther Mambala said it is very important to ban smoking in open places because that will reduce the possibility of innocent people inhaling smoke that would affect their health unknowingly thereby violating their human right to good health and life.

Pastor Daniel Walusa
Pastor Daniel Walusa: Open smoking must be banned.

He further said that government should consider the enforcement of the designated smoking areas and fines should be placed on those who are in violation.

On his part, Pastor Daniel Walusa said people should not be forced to inhale that which they don’t want claiming it is a violation of rights and the smell of tobacco is a nuisance to believers.

“There is therefore a need to ban open smoking in order to keep people healthy and keep them from addictions and save their income.

“Smoking is bad. The Bible asks us in Isaiah 55:2 “Why do you spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which doesn’t satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in richness,” said Walusa who condemns smoking.

It is not only these activists who know the dangers of public smoking but also government, as the Ministry of Health, through its publicist, Adrian Chikumbe, has fallen to the calls by several activists to ban open places smoking.

“On rights basis, everyone has a right to clean environment and so government will need to put in place legislation and regulation banning smoking in public places. However, this requires multi-sectoral collaboration and coordination,” said Chikumbe.

Now, what could be the immediate action? The ministry advised councils through local authorities, to use their powers to enforce by-laws to ban smoking in public places using the Environmental Protection Act and Universal Human Rights until Central Government moves the agenda.

Why banning open places smoking?

“Second-hand smoking is hazardous to health. When one smokes in the public, people next to him inhale the smoke and there is evidence that long exposure to this smoke causes diseases,” reads Article 8 of the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC): Protection from exposure to tobacco smoke.

Banning open spaces smoking will not only rescue second-hand smokers but will also rescue the smoker and will reduce the amount of toxic chemicals which can cause tobacco related illnesses to both the smoker and the second-hand smoker.


One Comment

  1. It’s a Gd story, but nxt tym pliz improve ur grammar & pictures should also be followed by info ya munthu yemwe ali pa Pic..

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