KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 — The Health Ministry said today that 17.6 per cent of those who were infected and succumbed to Covid-19 were smokers with zero history of chronic illnesses.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this was higher than the non-smokers at 12.1 per cent.
Citing the National Health & Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019 that was launched on May 29, Dr Noor Hisham said it was observed that around 21.3 per cent of Malaysians were smokers, and therefore exposed to Covid-19 complication risks than their peers who don’t smoke.
“Smoking has been proven to cause various illnesses and can weaken a human being’s immunity system, thereby increasing their risks to bacteria and viruses especially Covid-19.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) through a statement issued on May 27 which was supported by several researches, found that smokers have a high risk of being diagnosed with severe complications if they are infected with Covid-19,” he said in his daily Covid-19 press briefing here in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day.
Early observations and analysis performed on 86 of those who have died of Covid-19 found that 19.8 per cent or 17 people were from the smokers’ category.
He said the higher mortality rate was attributed to the fact that smoking caused lung damage which will lead to complications followed by death.
This is also compounded by weakened immune systems and risk of unwanted blood clots in the lungs.
“Since the beginning, we have never encouraged smoking and that Malaysians should quit them. Perhaps in the movement control order (MCO) and conditional movement control order (CMCO), one can take advantage of the situation to quit smoking.
“Our advice to everyone is to stop smoking. If we stop smoking, our health will be better for sure,” he said.
For that purpose, Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry along with the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society, Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia and Universiti Kebangsaaan Malaysia have come up with an online counselling service for those seeking to quit smoking at www.jomquit.moh.gov.my.
“Throughout the MCO and CMCO, 400 smokers can register to seek help in quitting and more than 5,000 people have visited the site.
“This figure shows an increase in awareness among the public especially smokers on the risk of smoking. The Health Ministry hopes more smokers will be proactive and take responsibility to act quickly for the sake of their health to protect their loved ones especially the elderlies and children,” he said.