KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — Tobacco users in Malaysia and in other countries were discontent that laws affecting their consumption were being legislated without their input, according to a survey commissioned by Philip Morris International.
The respondents said they wished to see legislators adopt a more balance stance in this area and eschew outright prohibition in favour of harm reduction, with even non-smokers preferring the provision of access and information regarding smoke-free alternative products.
The survey conducted by the independent research firm Povaddo found that 77 per cent of respondents expressed a belief that it is preferable for leaders to pursue policy changes that would bring about small, gradual changes rather than wide, sweeping changes.
“Inclusion of a harm reduction approach in strategies aimed at decreasing smoking prevalence has the potential to foster more rapid declines and can allow for progress in the realm of public health,” Philip Morris Malaysia managing director Naeem Shah Khan said in a statement.
The survey also revealed that Malaysian respondents believed that growing misinformation and disinformation have led to increasingly divided discourse.
“The survey of more than 44,000 adults in 22 countries including Malaysia shows strong agreement among respondents (88 per cent) that when making decisions that affect the lives of a significant portion of the population, leaders must listen to and advocate for the people they represent,” the statement from the tobacco company said.
Besides that, 82 per cent of respondents also expressed expectation that leaders would adapt laws and regulations based on facts and information when it comes to keeping up with technological changes.
Similarly, 81 per cent of legal-age Malaysian respondents believe decisions by policymakers that impact society and public health should be based on science and facts.
“The results from this survey show the importance to the public of decisions being made based on science and facts as well as the importance of access to information on smoke-free alternatives,” it added.
The survey revealed a strong agreement between respondents that finding the middle ground on challenging issues can enable progress with 90 per cent of respondents believing that leaders need to “consider all perspectives — even those that run counter to their own”.
Only 31 per cent of the adults surveyed felt that the way their governments handled important issues represented their own views.
The survey was conducted online between February 5 and 23, and polled over 440,000 respondents 21 and older across 22 countries including Malaysia.
The Health Ministry of Malaysia has proposed legislation that would prohibit the sale of all tobacco products to those born after 2005 even when they become 18 years’ old or the current age at which smoking is legal.