Khairy Justifies Generation Smoking Ban, With Tobacco Contributing 22% Of Cancer Deaths

Khairy Jamaluddin says the proposed smoking ban will help reduce the number of new smokers until “there are no longer smokers in Malaysia”.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 – Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today justified federal plans to impose a generation smoking ban for people born after 2005, saying that tobacco intake contributed to 22 per cent of cancer deaths.

The estimated cost to treat lung cancer due to smoking was RM132.7 million, Khairy said.

“On this note, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will be tabling a new Act to ban cigarette smoking and ownership of any smoking products, including vape, to those born after 2005 that has been dubbed as a generational end game.

“The implementation of this new legislation will help to reduce the number of new smokers until we reach a time when there are no longer smokers in Malaysia,” Khairy said in his speech at the launch of World Cancer Day at the National Cancer Institute in Putrajaya today.

According to a national survey published in January 2020, about 30 per cent more Malaysians died from cancer over the past decade.

The Malaysia National Cancer Registry Report (MNCRR) 2012-2016 reported a total of 82,601 medically certified and non-medically certified cancer deaths from 2012 to 2016, 28.5 per cent more cases than the collective 64,275 recorded cases from 2007 to 2011.

Medically certified deaths are certified by medical practitioners part of the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), and involve medical officers, district health officers and coroners. Non-medically certified deaths, on the other hand, are certified by police officers, medical assistants and other informants.

Khairy said deaths due to cancer is the leading cause of deaths in private hospitals at 34.95 per cent, and the fourth leading cause of deaths at Ministry of Health (MOH) hospitals at 11.56 per cent.

Cancer is also one of the top ten reasons for hospitalisation at both MOH hospitals (5.17 per cent) and private hospitals (5.37 per cent), Khairy said.

Khairy pointed out that data released by the Department of Statistics on the causes of deaths in Malaysia showed that total cancer deaths accounted for 14.8 per cent of all deaths in 2020, making cancer the second leading cause of death after ischemic heart disease, or heart problems caused by narrowed heart arteries (17 per cent).

Khairy said studies have shown that 30 to 50 per cent of cancer cases could be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle. He said a third of cancer deaths are linked with poor lifestyle practices, including tobacco intake (including smoking), being overweight, having an excessive alcohol intake, low intake of vegetables and fruits, as well as physical inactivity.

The government has allocated RM136.99 million for radiotherapy and oncology services to treat cancer this year alone, Khairy said. The amount does not include other costs such as imaging and laboratory for diagnosis confirmation, surgery and anesthesiology, rehabilitation and palliative services, with late stage cancer being more expensive to treat.

Malaysia reported an increase of about five percentage points in cancers detected in the late stages, from 58.8 per cent of cases (31,020) in 2007 to 2011, to 63.7 per cent of cases in 2012 to 2016 (37,339), the MNCRR 2012-2016 showed.

Staging was reported for 58,635 cancer cases in the 2012 to 2016 period, of which 9,102 (15.5 per cent) were at Stage 1, 12,194 (20.8 per cent) at Stage 2, 13,384 (22.8 per cent) at Stage 3, and 23,955 (40.9 per cent) at Stage 4.

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