‘Smoke-free’ status sought

| June 23, 2017

Malaysia is aiming to reduce the incidence of tobacco smoking in the country to 15 percent by 2025 and to five per cent by 2045, according to a story in The Borneo Post. Some people claim that a smoking incidence of below five percent is indicative of a smoke-free nation.

There seemed to be no specific new initiatives aimed at reducing the prevalence of smoking, but Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam was quoted as saying the ministry ‘would be intensifying efforts to empower and promote overall health to assist smokers to kick the unhealthy habit’.

Subramaniam said the government had carried out various initiatives to combat smoking, including raising the excise duty on cigarettes, requiring that health warnings were displayed on cigarette packs, and banning smoking in almost all public places.

“We hope the people will heed the message seriously and co-operate with the government to produce a smoking-free nation,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

The National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2015 showed that 22.8 percent or five million Malaysians aged 15 and above were smokers.

Most of the smokers were men, and male smokers were said to make up 43 percent of the group actively contributing to national economic growth.

Subramaniam said that, on average, Malaysians spent about RM178 a month on cigarettes, while the nation needed to spend RM2.92 billion annually in treating those with diseases linked to smoking.

“Imagine how much Malaysians would save if they stopped smoking,” he added.

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