PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will introduce a new law to ban smoking and the possession of tobacco products, including electronic vaporisers, for people born after 2005 as a "Generational End Game" for smoking in the country, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Thursday (Feb 17).
He said that the introduction of the law would help to reduce exposure to cigarettes and tobacco products for future generations as tobacco use is the leading cause of cancer, contributing to 22 per cent of cancer deaths.
“If you are 17 years old and Parliament (passes) the Act, you will never (be) able to buy cigarettes in this country ever again,” he said during the virtual launch of the ministry’s Cancer Day.
Khairy had previously spoken of the law in an address to Health Ministry staff in Putrajaya on Jan 13.
"One of the top causes, or top root causes of death, is smoking ... but for too long we have not looked at this from the legal aspect," he said.
He also raised the prospect of introducing the law during an address at a World Health Organization meeting in Geneva last month.
"Malaysia would like to highlight the negative impact of tobacco on (non-communicable diseases), which is well known," he said.
"We ... hope to pass a legislation this year which, if successful, will bring about a 'Generation End Game' to smoking by making it illegal for the sale of tobacco and other smoking products to anyone born after 2005.
"Malaysia feels this will have a significant impact in preventing and controlling (non-communicable diseases)."
On Thursday, Khairy said that cancer cases in Malaysia had increased by 11 per cent to 115,238 for the period from 2012 to 2016, compared to 103,507 cases recorded from 2007 to 2011.
It is estimated that one in 10 men and one in nine women are at risk of getting cancer, he said.
The three most common types of cancer among men in Malaysia are colorectal cancer (16.9 per cent), lung cancer (14.8 per cent) and prostate cancer (8.1 per cent), and among women, breast cancer (33.9 per cent), colorectal cancer (10.7 per cent) and cervical cancer (6.2 per cent).
Khairy said that cancer is also the leading cause of death recorded at private hospitals (34.95 per cent) and the fourth leading cause of death in government hospitals (11.56 per cent).
This year alone, he said that the government had allocated RM137 million (US$32.7 million) for radiotherapy and oncology services, and the amount did not include other costs in areas such as imaging and laboratories for diagnosis confirmation, surgery and anaesthesiology, rehabilitation and palliative care services.
At the event, Khairy also launched the National Strategic Plan for Cancer Control Programme (NSPCCP) 2021-2025 book, and the National Strategic Plan for Colorectal Cancer (NSPCRC) 2021-2025 book.
The NSPCCP 2021-2025 book contains the objectives and strategies for all areas of focus, encompassing prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, palliative care, traditional and complementary treatment, surveillance and monitoring, research and human resources.
The NSPCRC 2021-2025 book, on the other hand, is a subset of the NSPCCP 2021-2025 book, and is a colorectal cancer action plan for the ministry to control the disease, which is the second-most common type of cancer in Malaysia.