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Smoking Ban To Be Soon Implemented In South East Asian Bars

said a spokeswoman for Singapore's Health Promotion Board.

Singapore smokers made up only 12.6 percent of the population in 2004, one of the lowest rates in the world.

In Malaysia, the health ministry recently announced that discotheques, bars and outdoor recreation parks would soon be designated non-smoking areas.

The ministry plans to hike tobacco taxes by another 13 percent this year. In 2004, the government launched a $27-million, five-year anti-smoking drive dubbed 'Tak Nak' or 'Don't Want It', but it is facing tough resistance from Malaysian puffers, who account for five million of the country's 23 million people.

'The efforts against smoking are not achieving much,' admitted Mohamed Idris of the Consumers Association in Penang. 'The smoking habit is being successfully promoted and new smokers are still being recruited every day.'

Indonesia, where 62 percent of adult men are smokers, ranks fifth among the world's leading tobacco consumers. The government's anti-smoking efforts have run into serious opposition.

A ban on smoking in all public places in capital Jakarta was announced last year but went into force only this month, giving puffers a year-long grace period to adjust to the city ordinance that sets a $5,000 fine and six-month jail penalty for violations.

In the Philippines, tobacco lobbyists are also a problem.

'There are several lobbying efforts from tobacco companies and business establishments, who prefer not to have anti-smoking ordinances because these affect their business,' said a Manila-based World Health Organisation (WHO) official who preferred to remain anonymous.


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