Malaysiakini Letter

Smokers have no right to cause a nuisance

Ravinder Singh  |  Published:

LETTER | I refer to the Malaysiakini report Smokers club members file judicial review to challenge smoking ban.

These smokers' club members are showing themselves to be very selfish persons. Their filing for a judicial review to challenge the smoking ban is saying that it is their right to pollute the air that non-smokers are breathing in the specified places.

And that their rights supersede the right of the non-smokers to breathe air free of cigarette smoke. In other words, they claim they have a right to tell the non-smokers that "if you don't like cigarette smoke in this eatery, then go and eat somewhere else".

The smoking ban does not prohibit smokers from enjoying themselves. What it does is that it tells them is not to disturb the enjoyment of others. It tells them not to create a nuisance for others. Creating a nuisance is an offence, isn't it?

Yes, both non-smokers and smokers have constitutional rights. So whose rights override or have priority? Everyone has to breathe, both smokers and non-smokers. Non-smokers' have a right to breathe in clean air unpolluted by cigarette smoke.

The smokers' club is saying that no one has the right to question their right to smoke wherever and whenever they like. They do not recognise the right of the non-smokers not to breathe in cigarette smoke.

What is the requirement of the human body - air or cigarette smoke?

The human body cannot survive without air but it can survive (and be healthier) without cigarette smoke.

This should settle the question of whose rights are fundamental and cannot be taken away by some selfish persons. So any public space where non-smokers can go should be free of cigarette smoke even if they are parks or other open, public spaces.

The club cites "the equality in rights with non-smokers" as grounds for their application. This is just a lot of hogwash.

Cigarette smoke pollutes the air with poisonous substances. How does this make the rights of the smoker equal to the rights of non-smokers?

Interestingly, did this smokers' club file for a judicial review when some car manufacturers stopped providing built-in cigarette ashtrays in cars?

Let us see whose rights the judiciary will uphold, the silent majority's or the vocal minority's.

The government should consider “smoking" within earshot of non-smokers a public nuisance, too, and make it an offence.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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