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 Teens Say 'Nak' : One in four aged 13-17 puffing away

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PostSubject: Teens Say 'Nak' : One in four aged 13-17 puffing away   Thu 18 Aug à 11:32

Lung-cancer victims are getting younger. With more smoking at a younger age, even 18-year-olds are seeking treatment.
More sobering statistics:

• Nearly 25 per cent of Malaysian youth smoke, most of them between 13 and 17.
• A third of all smokers nationwide are young women.
• In rural areas, children as young as six smoke.

A recent study of 200 cancer patients revealed that about two-thirds started smoking early in life.

Public Health Specialist Association president Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said smoking from a young age greatly increased the risk of cancer.

"For many years, we have only been seeing older people, aged 50 and above, suffering lung cancer," he said. "Now we see patients as young as 18."

Smokers are vulnerable to cancers of the larynx, oesophagus, stomach, bladder, pancreas, cervix, colon and rectum.

Smoking also causes heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and hypertension.

Long-term smoking can reduce fertility in women and cause sudden infant death syndrome.

Among women, Dr Zainal noted, smoking also contributed to breast and cervical cancers.

Dr Zainal, who is also deputy director of the Health Ministry’s communicable diseases control division, said the ministry had been promoting a healthy lifestyle among youth, urging them, in particular, not to smoke.

Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control president Professor Dr Syed Mohamed Aljunid said children were picking up the habit because of adults’ influence — including parents, teachers and school counsellors.

"Advertisements, nicotine addiction and peer pressure also contribute to the problem."

Dr Syed Mohamed is worried about the financial cost of treatment, with the prospect of rising numbers of youthful patients.

He said the Government did not have a specific health policy for those between 12 and 18, unlike one for children up to five years of age and senior citizens.

"Many smokers are of schoolgoing age. The nation does not have a proper counselling package for this group."

He said the council hoped to get a comprehensive counselling package ready by the end of next year.

"Currently, youth have to depend on their families, teachers and well-wishers for help to kick the habit.

"This is not working as well as we would like it to. The problem is parents, teachers and community leaders who smoke are setting a bad example.

"The avenues are just not there to encourage the young to quit smoking," he told the NST.

He said 85 per cent of youngsters were influenced to smoke by friends or relatives.

Universiti Putra Malaysia Assoc Prof Dr Lekhraj Rampal said a recent study of 4,705 people, 2,080 males and 2,625 females aged 25 years and below, revealed that 46.2 per cent of the males and 3.3 per cent of the females smoked.

Of them, 25.4 per cent were Malays, 13.6 per cent Chinese, 10.9 per cent Indians and 50.1 per cent others.

Dr Rampal said 26.6 per cent of the smokers were Sarawak Bumiputeras and 27.3 per cent Sabah Bumiputeras.

A UPM study of 18,000 people last year revealed that 87.1 per cent smoked.

What was truly startling was the revelation of the age of smokers. Among 15-year-olds, 21 per cent smoked; 16 (32.2 per cent); 17 (35.6 per cent); 18 (45.5 per cent); 19 (51.4 per cent); and 20 (49.2 per cent).

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