Health DG: 17 out of 86 Covid-19 fatalities were smokers


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 31 May 2020

PETALING JAYA: One in five people who died of Covid-19 in Malaysia was a smoker, says Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pic).

The Health director-general said this was based on the research of 86 of the victims who died of the disease, where 17 or 19.8% of them were smokers.

A total of 115 people have died of the disease in Malaysia as of Sunday (May 31).

“The smoking habit has been proven to cause many diseases as well as weaken the immunity of people, raising the risk of bacterial infections and virus during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said during his daily briefing on the Covid-19 situation on Sunday.

Dr Noor Hisham said that smoking impairs lung function and results in the organ to be less resistant to the coronavirus and other diseases.

He was addressing the threat of smoking in conjunction with the World No-Tobacco Day that is observed on May 31 all around the world.

The annual campaign by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is an opportunity to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, and to discourage the use of tobacco in any form.

Dr Noor Hisham said that tobacco results in the death of more than eight million people around the world every year, with seven million caused by direct use while 1.2 million cases are because of exposure to second-hand smoke.

Dr Noor Hisham said that according to the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019, an estimated 21.3% of Malaysians were smokers.

He said that during the movement control order (MCO), the ministry took action on 118 individuals who sold cigarettes on e-commerce websites, as this was against the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 and the Poisons Act 1952.

Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry is working with the Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia, Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia (UIAM) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) to provide online counselling to those who want to stop smoking.

Dr Noor Hisham said that since the MCO started on March 18, a total of 400 smokers had registered to get help to stop smoking while more than 5,000 people had visited www.jomquit.moh.gov.my.

‘This shows that there is an increasing consciousness of the public especially among smokers about the dangers of smoking,” he said.

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