PUTRAJAYA, May 16 — Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad today said that tobacco use had claimed around 27,000 lives annually in Malaysia, despite an overall downward trend in its use in the country.

The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) Malaysia 2023 revealed that only 19 per cent of Malaysians smoked in 2023 and 21.3 per cent of Malaysians smoked in 2011.

“Tobacco use claimed the lives of around 27,000 yearly,” Dzulkefly said during his speech at the launch of the National Healh and Morbidity Survey 2023, here.

In comparison with 2011, the total number of male smokers dropped by 8.2 per cent but the number of female smokers increased by 0.5 per cent.

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The report also found that two out of five smokers were not interested in breaking the habit despite the habit costing them an average of RM177.70 a month.

Although 12.7 per cent of smokers began smoking between the ages of 15 and 24, the number had decreased by 4 per cent compared to 2011.

In the report, the government said that it aims to only have 15 per cent of smokers in the population by 2025.

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This target may be difficult to achieve with the emerging addiction towards electronic cigarettes, also known as vape, in mind as 8.6 per cent of youth between 15 and 24 used electronic cigarettes.

The report also cited the three main reasons for the younger generation’s preference of electronic cigarettes, namely the flavours, the perception that it is safer than conventional cigarettes and that it is easy to enjoy.

To reduce the prevalence of smoking, 89.5 per cent of respondents in the report suggested an increase in services that may help them to put an end to the addiction.