In a bid to control non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Malaysia, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has announced the country's plan to prohibit the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products to people born after 2005 by this year
At the 150th session of the World Health Organization's (WHO) executive board meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday, 26 January, Khairy said Malaysia hopes to pass a legislation that would completely cease smoking for future generations.
"We, like some other WPRO (Western Pacific) countries, hope to pass a legislation this year which, if successful, will bring about a generation endgame to smoking by making it illegal for the sale of tobacco and other smoking products to anyone born after 2005," he said.
The smoking ban would mean Malaysians, aged 17 and under this year, will not be allowed to purchase cigarettes ever in their lifetime.
He said a smoke-free future will have a significant impact in preventing and controlling NCDs
In Malaysia, one in five, or 21.3%, of people aged 15 years and older smoke, according to Malaysia's 2020 report to WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
That is some 4.9 million Malaysians who currently smoke.
According to CodeBlue, smoking is related to many common NCDs in Malaysia, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, lung disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
It is also reported that more than 27,200 smoking-related deaths occur in Malaysia annually.
Besides the smoking ban, Khairy said Malaysia will align its National Strategic Plans for NCDs and the future of its healthcare with WHO's Implementation Road Map
He said the government wants a "Health in All Policies" approach, where every stakeholder puts health as their focus, and which would also encourage different ministries to think about their contributions to public health, reported Malay Mail.
"How can the built environment and town planning lead to better health outcomes? How do agricultural policies improve the affordability of healthy foods? How do we talk about and act upon the social determinants of health outcomes? A 'Health in All Policies' approach is essential for better outcomes to prevent and control NCDs," he said.
Khairy said Malaysia also called on mental health to be a standalone item in future agendas as the matter deserved greater focused attention in WHO's work, especially after the pandemic.
Previously, Khairy said the ministry will be tabling a new Tobacco and Smoking Control Act in the upcoming parliament session: