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Project 4

Project 4: Consequences of Smoking among the Malaysian Population

Smoking is a prevalent problem worldwide but especially so in Asia where nearly more than half of the world population reside. Smoking kills half of its users and despite the many documented harm to health is still a major problem. Globally six million lives are lost each year because of this addiction. This number is estimated to increase to ten million within the next two decades. Apart from the mortality, smokers are at increased risk of health morbidities of smoking which is a major risk factor for many non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as heart diseases, respiratory conditions and even mental health. Together, smoking reduces life expectancy 10-15 years compared to a non-smoker. Those with mental health lose double the years, 20 -25 years of their life as a result of their smoking. The current Malaysia death toll is at 10,000 lives per year due to smoking related health complications. 

The latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) published in 2012 reported that 23.1% of Malaysians are found to be current smokers. Males outnumbered females by 43.9% to 1%. Of concern is the young age of initiation where the mean was 14 years of age. Alarmingly, the GATS reported that households which were interviewed reported being exposed to second-hand smoking (SHS) at higher rates depending on their location. The GATS methodology, however, did not mention objective measurements of SHS within their cohort. Third-hand smoking (THS), another risk of smoking gaining greater interest, however, was not reported. THS is when the smoke from smoking sticks to objects within contact such as bedding, upholstery and sofas for example and are re-introduced into the air after reacting with ultra violet rays for example, as more noxious chemicals which can cause harm. Other indirect harm such as environmental hazards as a result of smoking were not reported and have not been studied enough.


Professor Dr. Noor Hayaty Abu Kasim
Wellness Research Center
University Malaya (UM)

Dentistry, wellness 

Although the health impact of smoking has been reported at length, this information is limited nationally. Lung cancer for example is closely linked to smoking, however, the study of the link between the two is lacking in Malaysia. Lung cancer particularly in Malaysia is also often diagnosed late, usually at stages 3 and 4. These stages of cancer are linked with a poorer prognosis. As a result to the harms to health either directly or indirectly, the World Health Organization (WHO) has introduced a legal treaty, the first, called the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC). This treaty currently ratified by 174 countries was introduced in 2005 and consists of 38 FCTC Articles which are evidence based policies, known to assist member countries to reduce their smoking prevalence. Malaysia is an early signatory and early adopter of the MPOWER strategy which are major articles of the FCTC. Among them are education and information dissemination informing the dangers of smoking which can be done through awareness campaigns of advocacy using civil society groups. Most campaigns have focused on health harms with little mention non-health or environmental harm as a result of smoking. Therefore there is an opportunity to further develop this idea as a strong advocacy point towards a smoke-free generation in the near future


  • To investigate the health consequence of SHS in Malaysia
  • To evaluate intervention programs to curb initiation of smoking among school going children
  • To assess the lung cancer and COPD situation in Malaysia.

Expected Output

  • SHS harm to health
  • Situation of lung cancer  and COPD in Malaysia
  • Effective intervention programs for school going children.


Prof. Dr. Rosnah Mohd Zain (UM) Prof. Dr. Joseph Brain (Harvard) Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pang Yong Kek (UM)

Assoc Prof Dr. Amer Siddiq Nordin (UM)

 Prof. Dr. Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud  (UM)  

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