Smoking on the rise in Sarawak — Dr Jamilah

MIRI: The prevalence of smoking is on the increase in Sarawak and integrated efforts need to be taken to prevent many including innocent people from dying from tobacco-related diseases.

Quoting the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 1996 and 2015, State Health Department director Dr Jamilah Hashim said the prevalence increased to 25.4 per cent last year from 22.3 per cent in 1996. The percentage is higher than the national prevalence rate of 22.8 per cent and five million of them were Malaysians aged 15 years and above.

“The state’s prevalence is higher in rural areas at 26.4 per cent compared to 16.5 per cent in urban areas.

“Equally worrying is that NHMS 2012 showed that from 1,633 students randomly surveyed Sarawak has the highest percentage in the country of students smoking at 19.6 per cent while the national average is 11.5 per cent and 65 per cent smoked as early as when they were 14 years old,” revealed Dr Jamilah at the state-level presentation of the Blue Ribbon Award here yesterday.

Her text of speech was read by her deputy, Dr Nordin Salleh.

Pustaka Negeri Sarawak chief executive officer Rashidah Bolhassan, Malaysia Health Promotion Board (MySihat) chief executive officer Mohd Zaki Abdul Rahim, acting Miri divisional health officer Dr Veronica Lugah and Miri Hospital director Dr Jack Wong were present.

Dr Jamilah added that the Global Adults Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2011 showed that four in every 10 Malaysians or 7.6 million were exposed to second-hand smoke and Environmental Cigarette Smoke at home, 2.3 million people at their workplaces and seven out of ten were in danger due to second-hand smoke at eateries.

Cigarette smoke carries more than 7,000 dangerous chemicals, hence the likelihood of endangering the lives of all Malaysians and others in the world.-BP

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