THE critical Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill is to be tabled in Parliament this week. It is one of the most critical Bills that will affect the health and social well-being of many generations of our children. It is vital that all members of Parliament are fully aware of the issues and support this important Bill.
It is important to remember that the Bill does not limit smoking in adults but aims to stop the sale and use of cigarettes/vaping products in all children born from the year 2005 i.e. those who will be 18 years of age in 2023.
Smoking is a fast growing epidemic in our children.
The 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey provides us with comprehensive data on smoking behaviour in teenagers. The data is alarming for children aged 15 to nine years:
11.6% (303,800) were current cigarette smokers
7.5% (196,000) were vaping or using e-cigarettes
Overall 15.6% of all teenager aged 15-19 years were using a tobacco product
It is expected that the number of those vaping would have gone up considerably in recent years, since the national survey was conducted.
As paediatricians, we are aware of many younger children introduced to vaping tobacco products by means of attractive flavours/devices and the “look-cool” appeal.
Teenagers can be easily seen, all over the country, vaping and puffing away. Many start as early as nine and 10 years of age and get hooked.
It is well established that most smokers pick up the habit while they are teenagers; and vaping only makes this addiction so much easier to acquire.
It is of concern that the National Tobacco and E-cigarette survey among Malaysian Adolescents, as far back as 2016, showed that 9.1% of Malaysian adolescents aged 10 to 19 years were
e-cigarette/vape users; this amounts to at least 600,000 children. Half of these children first started vaping before the age of 14 years.
Tobacco addiction is extremely difficult habit to kick. Some progress on to using more addictive and harmful drugs.
We appeal to our members of Parliament to think about the health and well-being of all our children, today and future generations. Please vote in favour of the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill. The impact on combatting a major source of social ill in our society, the long-term reduction in health problems/deaths and the improved lifestyle of our children will be immeasurable.
A positive vote for this Bill is a vote of hope for all families whose children
will no longer be trapped in the smoking/vaping addiction.
A positive vote for this Bill is a vote that offers support to our health system to reduce a major disease burden.
Datuk Dr Amar-Singh HSS, Consultant Paediatrician; Dr Selva Kumar, Consultant Paediatrician and President Malaysian Paediatric Association; Datuk Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, Consultant Paediatrician
Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail, Consultant Paediatrician; Dr Thiyagar Nadarajaw, Consultant Paediatrician and Vice President of Malaysian Association for Adolescent Health