A haze emergency day could be as deadly as smoking 23 cigarettes in one day.
22 September 2023, Kuala Lumpur – Did you know regularly breathing haze could be equivalent to smoking?
Greenpeace Malaysia launches a digital campaign to highlight the detrimental effects of ‘Invisible Cigarettes’, namely air pollution from domestic and transboundary haze.
Regularly breathing haze with 500 Air Pollutant Index (API) could be equivalent to smoking around 23 cigarettes in a day. While long-term exposure to air pollution levels exceeding the 101 API (unhealthy level) mark, which parts of Malaysia are already experiencing, could be equivalent to smoking around 4.5 cigarettes in a day.
There is growing evidence of mortality effects related to long-term exposure to ambient air pollution, which is currently the greatest external threat to human life expectancy on the planet according to data from the Air Quality Life Index’s (AQLI) 2023 report. The impacts of PM2.5 are comparable to that of smoking, more than 3 times that of alcohol use and unsafe water, and more than 5 times that of transport injuries like car crashes.
The digital campaign seeks to raise questions and greater awareness on the decades long issue of transboundary haze and what Malaysian society deems safe. While leading Malaysians to sign a petition demanding the government enact a Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA).
This comes through with powerful yet unsettling imagery that visualises the most vulnerable population namely children, pregnant people and older adults, who are unconsciously made to breathe in the hazardous impacts of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from air pollution, which has been likened to smoking.
Heng Kiah Chun, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Regional Campaign Strategist:
“ASEAN country heads have been discussing transboundary haze pollution for decades with promises made most recently in the ASEAN meeting. However, judging from the unhealthy levels of air pollution we are still experiencing regionally, talk is weak.”
“The governments should not normalise haze, clean air is human right, it is time our ministers re-table a Transboundary Haze Pollution Act in the upcoming parliament sitting so they have the authority to enforce their actions to stop big polluters both domestically and abroad and protect our rights to clean air and the name of our palm oil industry.”
James Yap, Creative Director Leo Burnett Malaysia:
“Greenpeace Malaysia is perhaps the only visible voice against the annual haze situation, and this is part of an effort to get Malaysians to care because we think awareness is quite low.”
“Malaysians have grown so accustomed to haze for over 2 decades that it has become just an inconvenience we have to put up with as part of living in Malaysia. It’s especially so for those under 20 because they grew up with haze. As for those who are older and remember a time before haze, we are angered and concerned but feel helpless and therefore just learned to adapt. But this acceptance should not be the norm because our ‘tidak apa – biasalah’ attitude does not serve our health well and because we have a right to clean air.”
Notes to Editor:
- Air pollution the greatest external threat to human life expectancy
- Impacts of PM2.5 are comparable to smoking, more than 3 times that of alcohol use and unsafe water, and more than 5 times that of transport injuries like car crashes
- A haze emergency day could be as deadly as smoking 23 cigarettes in one day
- Categories of API reading:
- Between 0 and 50 API (good) | 51-100 API (moderate)
- 101 to 200 API (unhealthy) | 201 to 300 API (very unhealthy) |Above 300 API (hazardous)
- Several states are already experiencing unhealthy levels of air pollution this year, exceeding the 101 (unhealthy) API mark
We’re calling for stronger political will from our ministers to recognise that clean, haze-free air is a basic human right. Join us in pushing for a Transboundary Haze Pollution Act!