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February 28, 2018

Kuala Lumpur Goes Smoke-Free with the Partnership for Healthy Cities

 Spotlight on Malaysia’s Capital in Advance of World Conference on Tobacco or Health

It’s against the law for residents of Malaysia’s capital to smoke in restaurants, government buildings or shopping centers, but people sometimes light up anyway. So the city has joined the Partnership for Healthy Cities with a plan to get tougher about enforcing the law and build public support for a fully smoke-free Kuala Lumpur.

Mayor Tan Sri Hj. Mhd. Amin Nordin Bin Abd. Aziz officially announced the city’s Partnership initiative last week, noting that the city is aiming for an ambitious 85% compliance rate in government buildings and the hospitality sector.

The announcement comes at a moment when all eyes are on the significant challenges of going smoke-free, with the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) taking place next week in Cape Town.

Tobacco-related work is a big part of the Partnership for Healthy Cities, a two-year project led by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his role as World Health Organization (WHO) Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), with implementation support from Vital Strategies.

The Partnership’s focus is on cities’ special role: With over half the world’s population now living in urban areas, mayors are key in the fight to prevent NCDs and injuries—which are responsible for almost 80% of deaths globally. The 54 cities in the Partnership each chose from among ten proven public health interventions.

Kuala Lumpur’s work under the Partnership for Healthy Cities is well underway. The city is holding meetings with stakeholders including restaurant associations and transport workers; training police; and placing billboards and posters (one pair pictured below, in Malay and English) alerting the public to the dangers of second-hand smoke.

Kuala Lumpur’s technical lead on the Partnership project, Dr. Norhayati Shaari (Above, center), participated recently in a radio interview about the city’s smoke-free work.

Meanwhile in Cape Town, the Partnership for Healthy Cities is preparing a special event in advance of the WCOTH next week.

Many of the Partnership cities working on tobacco-related initiatives are sending technical leads to participate in a tobacco-focused Partnership workshop taking place just prior to the World Conference.

Vital Strategies and WHO staff will provide trainings and support the networking and strategy-sharing that will help the cities map out the next few months of their Partnership work.

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