'Smoking' in Brunei by Awang Sihat

Do you know that RIPAS hospital is now officially a “No Smoking Zone”. There are billboards placed at every major entrance to RIPAS Hospital to remind people of this fact. This is one of many initiatives of the Ministry of Health in promoting a healthier lifestyle in our country, one of which is staying tobacco free.


Unfortunately there are still many people smoking in the hospital especially outside the wards and waiting areas. Either smoking causes selective blindness to these signs or these smokers just choose to ignore the signs. Picture shows a man outside the labour room with kids behind him.


This is a common characteristic of Bruneian smokers. There are lots of places where they can smoke but still they decide to light up in areas prohibited by law to smoke. It is common knowledge that it is against the law to smoke in government buildings. They get annoyed when told that they should not light up in certain places. Some vandalise these signs to allow them to smoke. Some even get violent according to those who have tried. Why are they so sensitive? Do they feel like a child being told “no, you cannot do that”? Is it guilt? Shame?


A smoker may argue that is their right to smoke, after all, they bought the cigarettes including taxes. It is up to them to decide what is good or bad for them. I respect these rights, there is a big BUT though. You have to respect the rights of non-smokers as well. It is well documented that passive smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke is a growing problem. Those exposed to passive smoking are at risk of getting the same diseases as smokers, such as cancers, lung diseases to name a few. So please respect the rights of non-smokers to clean air!! They also have a right to clean air in public places such as in restaurants, including children and pregnant ladies. Kids and babies are really helpless in this matter so it is up to us to protect them.

If smokers were to use their own common sense, it is also logical to refrain from smoking in hospitals and other clinics as these are supposed to be a place where people try to become healthy, not get sick especially from inhaling smoke. Maybe smokers still do not realise the dangers of smoking. Maybe we need to increase awareness of the dangers of smoking through better warning labels on cigarette packs.

Dear smokers, the next time somebody tells you to refrain from smoking or to smoke somewhere else, please be rational and kindly do so to protect your own people.
Note: It has been a while since the last guest blog. Today's guest blog on the topic of cigarettes smoking in Brunei is written by someone who prefers to be known as Awang Sihat.

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