Switch to food crops, tobacco planters urged

SUPPORT: Ministry seeks farmers’ cooperation to discourage smoking among Malaysians


KUALA LUMPUR: THE Health Ministry yesterday urged tobacco planters to switch to growing crops that may help to increase the country’s food production.

Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said alternative crops should be sought to assist the ministry in discouraging smoking habit among Malaysians.

“Smoking increases non-communicable diseases and efforts should be made to reduce tobacco in the market,” he said in conjunction with World Tobacco Day 2012, which falls today.

He said the subsidies for tobacco plantations had been terminated.

He added that increasing the price and cigarette tax was the most effective method as pricing was proven to have played an important role in determining the rise or fall of smokers in the country.

“The price of cigarettes has influenced children and teenagers to pick up smoking and later, becoming chain smokers.”

Liow said this year’s focus would be to expose manufacturers and the public to the efforts by the tobacco industry to interfere with World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Other non-pricing approaches, he said included conducting anti-smoking campaigns, services at health clinics to help smokers quit, increasing the number of non- smoking zones and the ban on tobacco promotions and advertisements.

“Parents and educators should also be role models to children.”

Liow also urged private, government and non-governmental agencies and religious bodies to support the ministry’s tobacco control efforts.

“Consumer associations should also play a role.”

According to WHO statistics, smoking kills more than five million people annually worldwide, or one in 10 adults.

The annual death toll would increase to more than eight million by 2030 unless urgent efforts were taken to control the situation.

The National Health and Morbidity Survey 2006 showed 21.5 per cent or 2.73 million Malaysians were smokers and 33 million sticks of cigarettes worth RM8.6 million were smoked daily.

A quick online search revealed that a Malaysian adult smokes an average of 646 cigarettes annually.

Smoking is also the main cause of respiratory diseases, heart diseases, stroke and various types of cancers, killing more than 10,000 Malaysians every year.

Men in their 30s and 40s, who smoke, had a higher risk to suffer from erectile dysfunction by about 50 per cent.



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