The critical Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill is to be tabled in parliament this week. It is a critical bill that will affect the health and social wellbeing of the coming 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 and vaping products for all children born from 2005, i.e. those who will be 18 in 2023.
Smoking is a fast growing epidemic in our children.
The 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey has provided us with comprehensive national data on smoking behaviour in teenagers. The data is alarming for children aged 15 to 19::
- 11.6 per cent (303,800) are current cigarette smokers.
- 7.5 per cent (196,000) are vaping or using e-cigarettes.
- 15.6 per cent of all teenagers aged 15-19 are using tobacco products.
It is expected that the number of teenagers vaping would have gone up considerably in recent years since the survey was conducted. As paediatricians, we are aware of many younger children introduced to vaping products through attractive flavours and devices, and the ‘look-cool’ appeal.
Teenagers vaping can be seen all over the country. Many start as early as 9 or 10, and get hooked. It is well-established that most smokers pick up the smoking habit while they are teenagers, and vaping only makes this addiction easier to acquire.
It is of concern that the National Tobacco And E-Cigarette Survey Among Malaysian Adolescents (TECMA) has shown that 9.1 per cent of Malaysian adolescents aged 10 to 19 are currently e-cigarette or vape users, which amounts to at least 600,000 children. Half of these children started vaping before the age of 14.
Tobacco addiction is extremely difficult to expel. Some users will progress to using more addictive and harmful drugs.
We appeal to our Members of Parliament to think about the health and wellbeing of all our children. Please vote in favour of the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill. The impact on combating a major source of social ills in society and the long-term reduction in health problems and deaths will be immeasurable.
A positive vote for this bill is a positive vote for an investment in our children’s present and future health and wellbeing.
A positive vote for this bill is a vote of hope for all the families whose children will no longer be addicted to smoking or vaping.
A positive vote for this bill is a vote that offers support to our health care system to reduce a major disease burden.
- Dr Amar-Singh HSS, consultant paediatrician
- Dr Selva Kumar, consultant paediatrician and president of the Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA)
- Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, consultant paediatrician
- Dr Zulkifli Ismail, consultant paediatrician
- Dr Thiyagar Nadarajaw, consultant paediatrician and vice president of the Malaysian Association for Adolescent Health (MAAH)
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.