WHO: Malaysia Unlikely To Meet 2025 Tobacco Target

Malaysia’s tobacco use prevalence is predicted to drop to 19.6% by 2025, short of the 15% target.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 20 — Like most countries, Malaysia is projected to fail the global target for reducing tobacco use prevalence by 30 per cent by the year 2025 relative to 2010, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to WHO’s global report on trends in prevalence of tobacco use 2000-2025 (third edition) released Wednesday, the prevalence of tobacco use in Malaysia is expected to drop to 19.6 per cent by 2025, falling short of Malaysia’s goal of 15 per cent under its National Strategic Plan for Non-Communicable Disease 2016-2025.

Tobacco use prevalence has decreased in Malaysia from an estimated 29.6 per cent in 2000, 24.7 per cent in 2005 and 2010, to 22.8 per cent in 2015. It is expected to decrease further to 21 per cent in 2020, and 19.6 in 2025.

The report also revealed that Malaysia’s age-standardised prevalence of tobacco smoking rates in the same age group, for 2018, is estimated to be 21.8 per cent for both sexes, 42.7 per cent among males, and one per cent among females.

Current cigarette smoking rates among people aged 15 years and older, on the other hand, are prevalent among an estimated 18.5 per cent of the Malaysian population — 36.3 per cent males and 0.8 per cent females — for the same year.

An estimated 5.3 million people in Malaysia aged 15 years and older last year were tobacco users, the report added, with 5.1 million of them making up males, and 100,000 females.

The data for this survey was collected in Malaysia in 2015, and surveyed those aged 15 to 75.

The new Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration that came into power last year has pledged to fight tobacco, with Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad planning to strictly enforce a ban on smoking in restaurants starting next January 1, including at open-air eateries.

The WHO report, meanwhile, said that the global rate of 24.9 per cent tobacco use prevalence is projected to decline to 20.9 per cent of the global population by 2025, if current efforts in tobacco control are maintained in all countries.

By 2025, the percentage of men globally using tobacco is projected to decline to 35.1 per cent from the 2015 estimate of 40.3 per cent, while only 6.7 per cent of women in the world are expected to use tobacco in 2025, down from 9.5 per cent in 2015. The number of male tobacco users in the world had been increasing annually between 2000 and 2018, peaking at 1.093 billion men last year.

Trends in the global number of tobacco users. Graphic by the World Health Organization’s global report on trends in prevalence of tobacco use 2000-2025 (third edition).

But WHO noted that for the first time, the number of male tobacco users globally has stopped growing and is predicted to drop by two million fewer male users come 2020 to 1.091 billion men compared to 2018 levels, and then dropping by another four million users to 1.087 billion in 2025.

Tobacco use among young people is also expected to decrease, for both sexes, by 2025, with the same projection for tobacco use in South-East Asia, which had the highest average rate in 2000. Malaysia is grouped by WHO in the Western Pacific region as opposed to South East Asia.

The Western Pacific region, on the other hand, is expected to decrease tobacco use consumption by 2025 as well, though at a slower rate when compared to South East Asia. The Western Pacific is estimated to experience the least decline in the average prevalence rate –- a relative reduction of around 12 percentage points between 2010 and 2025.

Despite such gains, progress in meeting the global target set by governments to cut tobacco use by 30 per cent by 2025 remains off track. Based on current progress, a 23 per cent reduction will be achieved by 2025. Only 32 countries are currently on track to reach the 30 per cent reduction target.

The Western Pacific region is also projected to have the highest tobacco use rates among males in 2025, averaging 46.4 per cent. All other regions except the Western Pacific region are on track to reduce male prevalence rates by between 19 per cent and 22 per cent, the report added.

According to WHO, Western Pacific region countries are likely to achieve close to a 10 per cent reduction between 2010 and 2025. The region is estimated to deviate from the 30 per cent reduction target by 5.1 percentage points, as its projected tobacco use prevalence is 24.8 per cent in 2025, short of the 19.7 per cent target prevalence.

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