For decades, medical research has established that smoking cigarettes is without a doubt, detrimental to the overall physical wellbeing of an individual and can result in conditions such as chronic respiratory disease or worse still, cancer.
In a bid to stamp out the habit among Malaysians, the local government has rolled out a series of initiatives that contribute to the nation’s overall Anti-Smoking Generational End Game 18 Plan (GEGAR-18).
MOH: Over 43,000 secondary school students are smoking
And the effort could not come soon enough as according to Deputy Health Minister Lukanisman Awang Sauni, as many as 43,000 secondary school students in Malaysia have been found to be smoking.
This comes after the ministry held its Oral Health Tobacco-Free (KOTAK) programme screening back in 2022, which identified a total of 43,019 students with a smoking habit, reports local newswire service BERNAMA. What’s more during the same period, over 2 million primary schools underwent the screening, with 341 students found to have picked up smoking as well.
In response to their findings, Lukanisman shared during a Q&A session held at Dewan Negara that those who have been found smoking through the screening initiative were put through an intervention program, while all other students received continued education concerning the harmful and long-term effects of smoking to ensure that they do not adopt the habit later in life.
In response to Senator N. Balasubramaniam who asked for a follow-up on the progress of GEGAR-18, Lukanisman said that the programme has been extended to nine tertiary institutions in collaboration with the Volunteer Foundation and the Ministry of Higher Education.
Other than that, nineteen universities have also taken part in implementing the University Quit Smoking Services (mQUIT) programme to help undergraduates break the smoking habit.
“We will also take into the account on youths who are not in any higher learning institutions and extend the campaign to them through the Malaysia Youth Council and other related organisations”, he said.
In related news, the government has shockingly removed liquid nicotine from their Poisons List of controlled substances to enable taxation on e-liquids, reports CodeBlue. Liquid nicotine is one of the main components used in the manufacturing of vape and e-cigarette products, which essentially makes the sale and distribution of such products legal in Malaysia.
At this point in time, The Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022, which seeks to ban the use of tobacco and vape products for those born after 2007, has yet to be tabled.
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Also read: Health Minister KJ: new law to ban smoking for those born after 2005 will be introduced later this year in M’sia