The high number of deaths among individuals from groups still productive as workers due to smoking is alarming, said Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
Citing the 2015 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) report by the Health Ministry, Dzulkefly (above) said smoking was recorded as the leading contributor to 20,000 deaths each year.
He said the study also showed 22.8 percent or five million Malaysians aged 15 years and above are smokers, with those aged 20 to 54 years being the highest smokers, the majority being men.
“This group is still productive and can contribute to the country’s economic growth.
“Certainly the loss of productivity due to health problems, including those resulting from the use of tobacco products, is a cause for concern to the government,” he said while speaking at the awards ceremony and recognition of the Blue Ribbon Campaign 2019 in Putrajaya today.
Dzulkefly said smoking is also a major factor in the risk of heart and pulmonary tract diseases that contribute to 15.7 percent of the 20,000 deaths recorded.
He said it was alarming that 2.8 million people in the country who are passive smokers, also suffer negative health effects similar to active smokers.
Dzulkefly said the implementation of the Blue Ribbon Campaign would be a great initiative towards reducing smoking and supporting the government's efforts in gazetting public places as no-smoking areas.
He said the ban on smoking at all food premises effective January next year was also based on the blue ribbon programme, initiated by 117 public eating outlets voluntarily, banning smoking in their shops in order to protect the interests of customers who do not smoke.
“This shows the strong support of restaurant owners in maintaining the health of Malaysians even though open dining areas have not yet been gazetted,” he said.
At the event, 181 premises and communities received smoke-free premises recognition in three categories, namely the Blue Ribbon Beyond Award involving seven public premises, the Blue Ribbon Award (154) and the Blue Ribbon Community Award (20).
Introduced in 2013, the Blue Ribbon Campaign is an advocacy programme for the Malaysia Smoke-Free Campaign, aimed at recognising individuals, organisations and communities who have made significant contributions to protect the public from the dangers of cigarette smoke.