In conjunction with World No Tobacco Day on 31st May 2022, University Malaya (UM) being the first university to launch a very comprehensive Tobacco-Free Policy for the campus grounds, was officiated by YB Dato’ Dr Haji Noor Azmi Ghazali, Deputy Health Minister at the Dewan Tunku Canselor, UM. The ceremony commenced with a welcoming speech delivered by Professor Dato’ Ir Dr Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor, UM Vice-Chancellor followed by an inspiring opening speech by YB Dato’ Dr Haji Noor Azmi Ghazali who was very proud to return to his alma mater in an inaugural address for this milestone event in tobacco control.
University Malaya Tobacco-Free Policy
Since 2004, UM has banned smoking on campus. However, there was no comprehensive policy regarding tobacco control that must include a ban on smoking and cover the entire tobacco use (and its product), in line with the Malaysian Food Act 1983 and Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004. To create a tobacco-free generation, a task force led by Associate Professor Dr Farizah Mohd Hairi has come out with University Malaya’s Tobacco-Free Policy. Although the task force committee was officially appointed in November 2021, the work towards this policy has been initiated more than 10 years ago by the Nicotine Addiction Research Group (NARCC), University of Malaya Centre of Addiction Science (UMCAS). The NARCC has been doing research on tobacco control and nicotine addiction for more than a decade which resulted to this moment. The UM Tobacco-free policy is a comprehensive policy on tobacco control on the campus by a public university in Malaysia.
This policy includes cigarette smoking and any smoking devices such as electronic cigarettes (vape) and newly heat-not-burn (heated tobacco product) devices. The policy applies to University of Malaya students, staff and anyone entering the campus site (such as contract workers and visitors).
This policy aims to protect the health of students, staff and visitors of UM by ensuring the campus is safe, healthy and free from tobacco and any smoking products. The policy also clearly states the prohibition on any advertisement, sponsorship, distribution, and sales of tobacco products and any smoking products. The policy also bans students and staff from receiving support and financial aid from tobacco (and smoking products) companies for research purposes. It also prevents the students and staff from receiving sponsors and gifts from tobacco (and smoking products) companies.
In addition, the policy provides support for quitting smoking assistance for the UM staff and students. And for new students and staff admission, their smoking status will be documented and referred to quit smoking clinics.
YB Dato’ Dr Haji Noor Azmi Ghazali was accompanied by Professor Dato’ Ir Dr Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor, Vice-Chancellor, Associate Professor Dr Farizah Mohd Hairi, Head of Task Force – UM Tobacco-Free Policy and members of Task Force as well as Heads of Department to visit the winning Posters and Message Writing Competition as well as visit booth exhibitions by UM Clinic (formerly known as Student Health Clinic UM), Nicotine Addiction Research Group (NARCC), GEMPAQ Smoking Cessation Apps by NARCC team (GEMPAQ = Getting Every Smoker to Participate and Quit Smoking), and National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM).
The half-day program also included a forum on “Tobacco-Free Campus” by experts from University Malaya Medical Centre, Dr Megat Mohamad Amirul Amzar Megat Ibrahim, Family Medicine Specialist; Dr Muaz Sayuti, Senior Principal Assistant Director, Tobacco Control and Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Sector, Disease Control Division, Ministry of Health and Major Hasrul Taufek bin Roslan, RMAF (Retired), Chief Executive Officer MSGA Sdn Bhd. The forum was moderated by Dr Mohd Afiq Mohd Nor, Emergency Medicine Physician, UMMC.
At the closing ceremony, prizes were presented by Professor Ir Dr Shaliza Ibrahim, Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Research and Innovation to winners of the WNTD 2022 poster drawing and message writing competition among primary schools students from SK Sri Petaling, SK Bukit Pantai and SK Bangsar which are part of UM’s school friends. This activity was conducted to promote awareness among school children on the harmful effects of smoking and to prevent them from trying to smoke.
The closing speech was delivered by Professor Ir Dr Shaliza Ibrahim, Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Research and Innovation. She also announced the upcoming conference, the “14th Asia Pacific Conference on Tobacco or Health” (APACT), which will be jointly hosted by the NARCC, NCSM and MOH in September 2023. This event was a collaborative effort between the Project Management Office of Universiti Malaya, UMCares (Universiti Malaya Community Engagement Centre) and NARCC. Prizes for the winners and light refreshments were sponsored by MR DIY Sdn Bhd, Johnson & Johnson Sdn Bhd and Pfizer (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.
This article was prepared by Associate Professor Dr Farizah Mohd Hairi and Ina Sharyn Binti Kamaludin, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya.
More write up published in The Star and watch the launching ceremony of World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) on 31st May 2022 via YouTube below.