BALIK PULAU: With statistics showing that two out of 10 adolescent smokers start before the age of 10, the Government has launched a programme to nip the problem in the bud.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said class teachers in primary schools were each given a guidebook in the programme known as IMFree to educate pupils on the dangers of smoking.
“Teachers may know that smoking is bad but may be unaware of what cigarettes contain.
“The guidebook will help them explain in a simpler manner as well as keep the students engaged with the pictorials.
“If smoking among adolescents is not stopped, pupils could be introduced to other more dangerous substances such as drugs,” he said at the launch of the programme at SK Sungai Pinang here yesterday.
IMFree, an educational and smoking prevention programme held in primary schools, was created last year to ensure that those born after 2009 will never pick up the habit.
The programme is a joint effort between the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry which has been recognised by the World Health Organisation.
Kamalanathan said parents play a vital role in ensuring the success of the programme.
“Parents, teachers and the public need to tell the young to stay away from smoking,” he said.
The ministry’s health education director Suraiya Syed Mohamed said they began the pilot project in 36 schools nationwide last year.
She said 282 schools were following the programme, adding that they planned to rope in an extra 250 schools yearly.
“We hope to reach out to 480,000 pupils by 2021.
“There are 2.6 million primary school students now and we hope to reach out to all schools nationwide by 2025,” she said.