Malaysia’s Tobacco Control Debate

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Kuala Lumpur, Oct 10: In a recent development, the Parents and Teachers Association (Persatuan Ibu Bapa dan Guru or PIBG) and the Involvement of Community Parents and Private Sector (Pelibatan Ibu Bapa Komuniti serta Pihak Swasta or PIBKS) under the Malaysian Ministry of Education have expressed their full support for the government’s initiative to present the Tobacco Control Products Bill for Public Health 2023.
The bill, which aims to combat smoking-related health issues, has garnered praise from various quarters.
Amiruddin Sahudi, Chairman of PIBG for SMK Taman Setiawangsa and Focal Person for Parent, Community, and Private Sector Involvement (WPKL/National) in the Ministry of Education, highlighted the severity of the smoking issue in Malaysia.
He emphasized that smoking not only poses a significant health concern but also has a close connection to social issues and student behavior.
The proposed Generational Endgame (GEG) provision, which seeks to ban the sale, purchase, and use of tobacco and related products, including vaping, for individuals born after January 1, 2007, has garnered widespread support.

PIBG SMK Taman Setiawangsa
PIBG SMK Taman Setiawangsa

This provision is seen as timely, given the proliferation of new tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and vapes.
Several in-depth studies have explored the factors influencing students, particularly in secondary schools, to take up smoking.
Factors identified include the availability of tobacco products, peer influence, family members who smoke at home, and curiosity.
Amiruddin Sahudi voiced concern about the alarming phenomenon of school students taking up smoking, especially from the parents’ perspective.
He highlighted the potential for smoking at a young age to lead to more dangerous substances like marijuana, amphetamines, heroin, and others.
Furthermore, students are exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke in their homes, which increases their risk of developing smoking-related health issues, particularly lung problems.
Many students lack awareness of the risks associated with smoking and are often uninformed about the addictive nature of these products.
Amiruddin Sahudi stressed the importance of collaboration among parents, school teachers, healthcare professionals, enforcement agencies, and policymakers in addressing the issue of smoking and vaping among school students.
He emphasized the critical role of the government in enacting regulations and laws to protect the younger generation.
The GEG provision is expected to reinforce existing laws and regulations, offering better control over smoking among students and reducing the percentage of future smokers.
At the school level, the PIBG of the Ministry of Education fully supports the government’s efforts to introduce the Tobacco Control Products Bill for Public Health 2023.
They believe that PIBG can play a vital role in raising awareness and understanding among parents about the dangers of smoking to their children.
Without proper monitoring, children may resort to using harmful substances that jeopardize their futures.
This legislation has long been awaited by all parties concerned, particularly in curbing the use of tobacco products and the widespread use of vaping, especially among adolescents.
“We hope that the new act regulating tobacco products and the Generational Endgame provision will be presented and approved for the well-being of all Malaysians, especially the younger generation,” Amiruddin Sahudi concluded.
In the long term, this legislation is expected to create a healthier generation free from smoking practices, ultimately reducing the burden of healthcare costs due to smoking-related complications.
All stakeholders must take this matter into account to realize the National Education Philosophy (FPK), which aims to develop well-rounded individuals who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically balanced, based on faith and obedience to God.

Persatuan Permuafakatan Ibu Bapa Prihatin Sentul.
Persatuan Permuafakatan Ibu Bapa Prihatin Sentul.

In a contrasting perspective, the Parents’ Concern Alliance of Sentul (Persatuan Permuafakatan Ibu Bapa Prihatin Sentul) has expressed disappointment over the postponement of the Tobacco Control Products Bill, which was supposed to be presented in the Dewan Rakyat (Parliament) yesterday.
“This matter is a cause for concern for us, especially considering the critical issue of smoking, particularly the use of electronic cigarettes or vaping among children and school students.
“We can see an influx of electronic cigarettes in the open market, which is attracting the attention of school students. Without regulations, this situation is becoming more prevalent,” said Zainoddin Ramelan, Chairman of the Parents’ Concern Alliance of Sentul.
Based on the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2022, the percentage of electronic cigarette or vape usage among teenagers has surged from 9.8 percent in 2017 to 14.9 percent in 2022.
“Parents and teachers are deeply concerned about the current smoking problem. Children as young as 9 years old are starting to use tobacco products, especially vaping.
What is even more worrying is that many vape products on the market now contain high levels of nicotine and are often mixed with dangerous drugs such as methamphetamine and magic mushrooms,” he added.
This issue has been widely reported in the media, with several vape manufacturing facilities being raided by authorities for mixing methamphetamine into vape liquid.
Without the provisions of the Generational Endgame (GEG) and control over vape products, the door to drug addiction remains wide open. As is commonly known, many drug addicts start with smoking and vaping.
“Studies by the Malaysian Ministry of Health also show that 66 percent of smokers in Malaysia belong to the B40 group.
“The Parents’ Concern Alliance fully supports the Prime Minister’s efforts to eradicate poverty. However, the smoking issue, particularly vaping among B40 children, will make this endeavor even more challenging and could lead children to nicotine addiction, jeopardizing their futures.”
Zainoddin also called on the Malaysian Ministry of Education to take a more serious approach to assisting children who have already fallen into the habit of smoking and vaping.
He emphasized the need for a more holistic approach, not just focusing on discipline and penalties for students caught smoking.
“Do we know that nicotine is highly addictive compared to other drugs?
Therefore, children who have been caught smoking are almost certain to repeat their actions. Hence, a more holistic approach is needed, not only by the Ministry of Education, which oversees children in schools but also by other government agencies to ensure that products like vape are not easily accessible to children outside school grounds.”
“We, representing parents, are deeply saddened and concerned about the death of a 16-year-old girl due to vaping, as mentioned by the Minister of Health.
“This is a heart-wrenching incident that should not happen again.
“The government must have a strong commitment not only to eradicate poverty but also to eliminate smoking and vaping, ensuring that Malaysia can produce a healthy generation free from the chain of smoking and vaping-related issues.”
“Therefore, it is the hope of parents and teachers that the government is aware of the current situation and will ensure the Tobacco Control Products Bill for Public Health 2023 and GEG are presented and approved promptly.
“There should be no further delay; the government must act immediately!” he emphasized.

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