AN average of 50 to 60 teenagers are picking up the smoking habit daily nationwide and this is worrying, said the Health Ministry.
Its senior director (Dental Health) Dr Noor Aliyah Ismail said: “Based on the Tobacco Survey Malaysia 2015, about five million people, aged 15 and above, or 22.8% of the nation’s smokers, are active smokers.
“This is a worrying fact that has to be taken seriously as the younger generation is fast picking up the smoking habit.”
She said this in her speech at the state-level Dental Carnival 2016 organised by the Ministry at Mydin Mall in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, on Tuesday.
Dr Noor Aliyah said World Health Organisation statistics showed that about one billion people worldwide were smokers.
She warned that each cigarette stick has over 4,000 poisonous chemicals, the most dangerous being tar and nicotine.
“Smoking is also a key contributor to drug addiction as studies have shown that 99% of drug addicts in detention centres admitted to being smokers during their teenage years.
“Many steps were taken by the Ministry to address the smoking issues through the National Tobacco Control Strategic Plan 2015-2020, with the aim to develop a generation of Malaysians free from the smoking habit,” she said.
At the carnival themed Oral Health Without Smoking, some 200 students from various schools visited the booths and exhibitions set up to educate visitors on the dangers of smoking and the importance of practising proper dental care.
Among them were Form Four student Muhammad Ariff Musa from SMK Machang Bubok and his friends.
“After seeing the effects of what smoking can do to the human body, I promise not to pick up the smoking habit,” said the 16-year-old.
Form Two student Norfasihah Jasni, 14, from SMK Seri Muda, felt the carnival was good as she learnt to take care of her teeth and gums properly.
“I never knew there are so many ways to clean the teeth thoroughly.
“The carnival is an eye-opener for me,” she said.