Puff Puff don’t pass
With Marcus Muhariwa:
It is summer and the season for festivals is upon us once again. The lake becomes the most preferred destination as everyone seeks to leave the city and cool off, at the beaches of our beautiful Lake Malawi. Already Lake of Stars wraps up today and the Sand Festival is coming up next week.
Seeing how the weather changed to chilly winds in the past week coming into this just ending weekend, I could not help but wonder how those headed to the lake must have felt. The last thing you want at the lake is cold weather. And if the chill is punctuated by heavy winds, the lake becomes hostile and the beach simply unaccommodating.
It is very unusual for Malawi to experience waves of cold weather in September, especially during dates closer to October when traditionally we are supposed to be drawing near the peak of the summer season. By this time, one is not supposed to still remember where they put their winter clothes.
I believe this is one of the effects of climate change. Our planet is behaving in certain unusual ways. Ice is melting in the Antarctic, regions that have always known rain have become dry, and flooding and destructive storms are almost becoming normal.
What is scary about all this is that most of the adverse changes we are experiencing are man-made. Anyway, the weather and climate change are not my topic of discussion today, but will definitely return to the subject in subsequent entries. Today I want to talk about smoking in public.
When you travel to cities in developed countries these days you do not see people puffing cigarettes everywhere in public, the way it was many years ago. Now, in most cities around the world smoking in public is a punishable offense and it is strictly enforced.
Why can’t we do the same in our cities here? I know I am not the only one who is bothered when I am out with my children at a restaurant or at the mall and have smokers puffing away, leaving everyone inhaling the second-hand smoke.
I read somewhere and I believe there is well-documented evidence that secondhand smoke is just as bad as smoking the actual cigarette. This means that public smoking is a public health risk that needs urgent attention.
The dangers that smoking pauses to those who are hooked on cigarettes are very well-publicised and it is a requirement for those who sell cigarettes to make sure they tell the public that smoking kills. But why is it that the risk to the non-smoker is downplayed when the danger is the same.
I believe that government should work with our city councils to ban smoking in public spaces. It should no longer be alright for smokers to pull out a cigarette anywhere the craving hits them. City councils have a public health responsibility to protect the public from secondhand smoke.
Actually, now that parliament is in session and there is a new parliamentary Health Committee in place, why can’t this issue be taken up for possible discussing of legislation to stop smoking in public. It is not right that those who have decided not to smoke should suffer consequences of those decided otherwise.
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