Smokers should not have rights

Smokers should not have rights
By Zan Azlee

It’s World No Tobacco Day today and this reminds me of the smoking ban that the Ministry of Health imposed on to all eateries in Malaysia. So far it’s been five months and what have we seen so far? It’s been nothing but positive feedback, especially from non-smokers.

Okay fine. When I say ‘especially non-smokers’, what I really mean is me.

I hate smoking with a vengeance. Just because it isn’t illegal doesn’t mean it isn’t bad. Just like unjust laws like the ISA. Just because it is there doesn’t mean that it is right.

This week, the High Court also set a date for the judicial review against the smoking ban to be heard. Seven individuals (who I assume are smokers) filed the review claiming that the ban is going against the Federal Constitution since smoking is not against the law.

They also claimed that the ban does not respect the rights of smokers (there is actually a group called the Smokers’ Rights Club, of which the review is also being filed on behalf of) because smokers should have the right to smoke whenever and wherever they want.

I have to call this b*****t.

Smoking is proven to be a very dangerous and unhealthy activity. Not only is it harmful to the people who are actually smoking, but it affects people who don’t smoke too.

I am sorry to say that smoking is a choice while breathing is not.

The right of people to breathe clean air trumps the right of a smoker to smoke anytime and anywhere. So the intention of the government to gazette all places in the country as non-smoking areas is a valid intention.

The seven individuals and the Smokers’ Rights Club say that the ban will further ostracise them and exclude them from being a part of normal society. They say that when they are forced to smoke across the road from a mamak restaurant, they are actually being isolated.

Well, that is the exact objective of the smoking ban. The ban is supposed to isolate smokers so much so that smokers will feel that it is disadvantageous for them to be smokers. Over time, this is supposed to create a negative perception of smoking so that people don’t want to be smokers.

The smokers rant saying that we will become like Singapore, where smokers are treated like dirty people who need to be separated and can only smoke in small yellow boxes on the side of the road.

Again, I say that that is the exact intention. Smoking is dirty.

The smokers are also saying that if we want to impose a ban, then they need to be provided with more facilities so they can continue smoking such as having more smoking areas and more comfortable ones at that. And again, I say, the intention is to make it harder for smokers to smoke.

Some smokers are even making threats. A few have even told me that the government needs to be careful because smokers make up a big number of voters. So if the ban is still being pursued, then the smokers may just decide to vote for the other side.

To this, I say that they are a bunch of selfish children who are thinking of nothing but themselves. They want to make vital decisions that will affect the whole country and its population, which would include their own friends, family, children and all, just because they want to smoke.

With all this being said, I am not trying to prove that smokers are bad people. Definitely not. I have friends and family who are smokers and they are nice people. But they are decent human beings who know that their smoking is a bad habit that can affect other people.

They don’t fight the ban nor do they even acknowledge that smoking is a good thing. They don’t even promote smoking to anyone because they know that it’s not the right thing to do. I mean, how stupid or delusional does someone have to be to not understand that smoking is bad, right?

So everyone needs to realise that the objective is to make it as difficult as possible for people to smoke, and not to make it easy, because we want to eradicate smoking. So stop whining and complaining that we’re making it difficult, because we are.

Happy No Tobacco Day to all Malaysians!

[This article was originally written for and published at]

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2 responses to “Smokers should not have rights

  1. Hi Zan,
    I come across your article in Malaysiakini today.
    I understand where you’re coming from and your main issue is with those Smoker Club people.

    I just wanna say that I feel that, as long as one doesn’t bother other people, we ought to be more tolerant with whatever choices of others.

    I mean, say there is a total banning of smoking, what’s next? No more alcohol? No more whatever sexual practice preferences? No more chewing gum? No more (fill in the blank)?

    Norms change over time, it used to be smoking is allowed pretty much every where. Time has changes. So us smokers ought to change as well, I acknowledge that. But at the very least, give us a place to smoke freely without bothering others non smokers, look at it like some sort of handicap facility, that wouldn’t be too much, would it?

    Live and let live.


    • I agree to live and let live. But I also think we need to educate society on the harms of smoking and teach the younger generation not to pick up such a bad habit. That’s why we need to enforce laws that will make it harder and more of an inconvenience for people to smoke. Eventually, that will break society from the habit.

      I do understand that it is a gradual change. So now we start with creating more non-smoking areas. Hopefully, we can eventually ban cigarettes altogether.

      We ban so many other dangerous substances such as drugs like heroin, cocaine and ecstasy. If we go by the philosophy that we shouldn’t bother people who doesn’t bother us, than why ban those substances too?

      Thank you Mr Leow, for voicing your opinions. I appreciate that we are able to engage in a civilised discussion using words even when we disagree. Godspeed! 😊


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