Malaysia-Asean countries cooperate towards becoming smoke-free by 2045

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said the strategies being drawn up included intensifying health promotion efforts in a comprehensive manner to help smokers kick the unhealthy habit. — Picture by KE Ooi
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said the strategies being drawn up included intensifying health promotion efforts in a comprehensive manner to help smokers kick the unhealthy habit. — Picture by KE Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, July 20 — Malaysia is expected to achieve the target of becoming a smoke-free nation by 2045 following strategic implementation of anti-smoking initiatives boosted through joint cooperation with other Asean countries.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said the strategies being drawn up included intensifying health promotion efforts in a comprehensive manner to help smokers kick the unhealthy habit.

“Cigarettes or tobacco are the biggest threat and main risk factor for non-communicable diseases which contribute to more than half a million deaths in the Asean region each year.

“That is why Malaysia together with other Asean countries wish to cooperate and share views towards creating smoke-free nations. I believe Malaysia will be able to reach the target by 2045.”

Dr Hilmi said this after opening the Regional Smoke-Free Cities Workshop and The Summit of Smoke-Free Leaders, with South-East Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) chairman, Dr Siriwat Tiptaradol and Malaysian Health Promotion Board (MySihat) chairman, Tan Sri Dr Mohd Nasir Mohd Ashraf also present.

The over 100 participants of the three-day workshop beginning yesterday, come from Asean countries, China, Pakistan and Mongolia.

Dr Hilmi said the Health Ministry targeted to reduce the number of smokers in Malaysia to 15 per cent by 2025 and to less than five per cent by 2045, in line with the target of becoming a smoke-free nation.

Smoking incidence of below five per cent is said to be indicative of a smoke-free nation.

The deputy minister said the government had undertaken various initiatives like raising the excise duty on cigarettes, and placing health warning signs with images on cigarette packets and no-smoking signs at most public places to fight the bad habit.

“We also give free services to those who want to quit smoking and to date, 944 quit-smoking clinics comprising 731 health clinics (731), pharmacy and community clinics (146), hospitals (33) and others (14) are participating in the effort.”

He added that 2,973 individuals or 27.6 per cent of 10,791 smokers who came for advice and counselling managed to quit the smoking habit.

Dr Hilmi also said that seven states, namely Melaka, Johor, Penang, Sarawak, Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu were participating in the effort and committed to implementing the smoke-free initiative, while several other countries would undertake the same initiative.

“In Malaysia, it is estimated that seven out of every 10 adults or 8.6 million are exposed to cigarette smoke at public places, while four out of every 10 adults or 7.6 million are exposed to it at home,” he noted. — Bernama

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