Dear Members of Parliament, please vote for our children’s future wellbeing

18 Jul 2022 11:11am
Illustrative purposes (123rf)
Illustrative purposes (123rf)

The critical Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill is to be tabled in parliament this week. One of the most critical bills that will affect the health and social wellbeing of many 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 / vaping products in all children born from the year 2005 i.e. those who will be 18 years of age in 2023.

Smoking is a fast growing epidemic in our children.

The 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey provides us with comprehensive national data on smoking behaviour in teenagers. The data is alarming for children aged 15-9 years:

· 11.6 per cent (303,800) were current cigarette smokers

· 7.5 per cent (196,000) were vaping or using e-cigarettes

· Overall 15.6 per cent of all teenager aged 15-19 years were using a tobacco product

It is expected that the number vaping would have gone up considerably in recent years, since that national survey was conducted. As paediatricians we are aware of many younger children introduced to vaping tobacco products by means of attractive flavours / devices and the ‘look-cool’ appeal.

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Teenagers can be easily seen, all over the country, vaping and puffing away. Many start as early as nine to 10 years of age and get hooked.

It is well established that most smokers pick up the habit while they are teenagers; vaping only makes this addiction so much easier to acquire.

It is of concern that the National Tobacco and E-cigarette survey among Malaysian Adolescents (Tecma), as far back as 2016, showed that 9.1 per cent of Malaysian adolescents aged 10-19 years were currently e-cigarette / vape users; this amounts to at least 600,000 children. Half of these children first started vaping before the age of 14 years.

Tobacco addiction is extremely difficult to get out of. Some progress on to using more addictive and harmful drugs.

We would appeal to our Members of Parliament to think about the health and wellbeing of all our children, today and future generations.

Please vote in favour of the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill.

The impact on combating a major source of social ill in our society, the long-term reduction in health problems / deaths and the improved lifestyle for our children will be immeasurable.

A positive vote for this bill is a positive vote for an investment in our childrens’ present and future health and well-being.

A positive vote for this bill is a vote of hope for all the families whose children will no longer be trapped in smoking / vaping addiction.

A positive vote for this bill is a vote that offers support to our health system to reduce a major disease burden.

Signed by:

Datuk Dr Amar-Singh HSS, Consultant Paediatrician

Dr. Selva Kumar, Consultant Paediatrician and President Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA)

Datuk Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, Consultant Paediatrician

Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail, Consultant Paediatrician

Dr Thiyagar Nadarajaw, Consultant Paediatrician and Vice President of Malaysian Association for Adolescent Health (MAAH)

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