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Thursday, June 1, 2023

2025 smoking reduction goal up in smoke, says foundation head


According to a research paper published this year, smoking prevalence remained between 20% and 25% from 1986 to 2019. (Pixabay pic)

PETALING JAYA: The head of a foundation under the Prime Minister’s Department said the nation is unlikely to achieve its 2025 target of cutting smoking prevalence.

Malaysia had set a 50% reduction target in the next couple of years, Policy and Economic Affairs Centre of Malaysia Foundation (PEACE) CEO Zokhri Idris said.

Smoking prevalence is defined as the percentage of the population aged 15 years and above who currently use any type of cigarette.

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However, a research paper published in March this year showed that from 1986 to 2019, smoking prevalence remained between 20% and 25%, he said.

“And that was before the pandemic. I can’t imagine that the percentage would have decreased during the (Covid-19) pandemic,” he said during a panel discussion hosted by Philip Morris on tobacco harm reduction.

Zokhri also doubted that the Generational End Game (GEG) provisions under the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill, on their own, would be able to reduce the number of smokers.

“What we need is a reductionist approach, manifesting an effective transitional process from point A to point B. Our priority is to ensure that the needle moves progressively in our effort to reduce smoking prevalence in Malaysia.”

Another panellist, Malaysia Society for Harm Reduction president Dr Sharifah Ezat Wan Puteh, said 40% of Malaysian males above the age of 15 were smokers.

If women were included, the figure was about 20% of the total population, she said.

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In the context of smokers, Sharifah said harm reduction meant persuading smokers to use something less harmful. She said alternatives such as e-cigarettes, vapes and heat-not-burn smoking products should be considered.

“However, vaping is not totally harmless; if you’re a non-smoker, there’s no point in using them at all.” - FMT

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