LETTERS: There are an estimated 4.9 million smokers with more than 27,200 smoking-related preventable deaths reported annually in Malaysia. This is alarming.
Despite the efforts of the government and non-governmental organizations to steer the nation towards a smoke-free future, smoking remains ingrained in the country’s culture and DNA.
From personal experience and research, I find that there are many misconceptions about smoking while its alternatives do not help smokers.
After much research, I learnt that nicotine may be harmful, but it is not the primary cause of smoking-related diseases.
Nicotine, however, is the primary addictive substance found in tobacco and is responsible for the release of dopamine (feel-good hormones) into our bloodstream. This is the factor that keeps people wanting more.
The primary cause of smoking-related health problems stems from other chemicals found in tobacco smoke that are produced upon the combustion of traditional cigarettes.
These toxicants (the culprits) include tar, carbon monoxide, carcinogens and a plethora of others, but not nicotine.
If nicotine was in fact so “detrimental” as it is said to be, why then would the government exempt it from the Poisons Act 1952, and permit nicotine replacement therapy with over-the-counter sales of nicotine patches and gums?
The United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom have found the use of nicotine patches and gums effective in managing smoking withdrawal symptoms.
Plus, smoke-free alternatives are less harmful than cigarettes.
In fact, e-cigarettes can reduce smoking-related deaths by 21 per cent in those born after 1997, according to research.
Which is why in many countries, like Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, smoke-free alternatives have been employed as a harm-reduction tool for smokers looking to quit.
Nevertheless, while government regulatory bodies work hard to protect the people, it is our duty as citizens to continue to arm ourselves with knowledge and resources to promote smoking-prevention and cessation efforts.
This will also encourage our loved ones to know the true risks of smoking and what are in smoke-free alternatives.
By doing so, we will be one step closer towards a smoke-free Malaysia.