Anti-tobacco bill needs support of all

LETTERS: As a medical practitioner with over three decades of experience, I have witnessed the devastating consequences of smoking and vaping on health.

I believe the Health Ministry's Generational Endgame (GEG) Bill is a crucial step towards protecting the health of future generations.

In case anyone is not yet convinced why we should rally behind the GEG, let me share some facts and figures.

The prevalence of smoking in Malaysia is disconcerting. The National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019 disclosed that 22.8 per cent of Malaysians aged 15 and above — five million — are smokers.

Tobacco use, encompassing smoking and vaping, poses public health risks. Cigarette smoke comprises more than 7,000 chemicals, including 70 carcinogens, which give rise to lung cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable fatalities in Malaysia, contributing to more than 20,000 deaths annually.

Similarly, vaping is not a harmless alternative to smoking as many assume.

While e-cigarettes may contain fewer toxic chemicals than traditional cigarettes, they still expose users to nicotine, heavy metals and volatile organic compounds. These substances can damage the lungs and increase the risk of respiratory illnesses.

The vulnerability of young individuals is a matter of concern.

Their developing bodies are susceptible to the detrimental effects of these substances, putting them at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases in their later years.

Moreover, nicotine addiction can have profound effects on their brain development, impacting cognitive functions and raising the likelihood of substance abuse disorders.

Arguments about personal choice and potential infringements on individual freedom might arise.

However, it is vital to recognise that the government has a responsibility to protect public health. The long-term health benefits of GEG outweigh any perceived limitation on personal choice.

Crucially, GEG does not aim to impose an outright ban on smoking or vaping by those of legal age.

Instead, the focus is on preventing a new generation from falling into addiction, ultimately reducing the burden of tobacco-related diseases in the long run.

Kudos to MySejahtera, too, for conducting a public survey of Malaysians' support for the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill and GEG. This survey ensures that the voices of Malaysians are heard.

I encourage everyone to take the survey and share their views on GEG and the bill. We can no longer remain the silent majority in such a crucial development that affects future generations.


Kuala Lumpur

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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