KUCHING, May 31: Preliminary research and analysis on 86 patients who died from Covid-19 shows that 17 of them (19.8 per cent) were smokers, Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today.
Analysis also revealed that the number of smokers with no history of chronic illnesses who succumbed to Covid-19 was higher than non-smokers at 17.6 per cent compared to 12.1 per cent.
“The higher death rate was attributed to the fact that smoking caused lung damage which will lead to further complications when one is infected with Covid-19, and followed by death.
“Smoking has been proven to cause many types of diseases. It can weaken the human immune system and at the same time, increase the risk of bacterial infections and virus especially during this Covid-19 outbreak.
“Covid-19 is a highly contagious and infectious disease especially with regards to the lungs. Smoking impairs lung function, thus making it more difficult for our bodies to fight coronaviruses and other diseases,” Dr Noor Hisham said at the ministry’s daily Covid-19 media briefing in Putrajaya.
To date, Malaysia has recorded a total of 115 deaths from Covid-19.
Dr Noor Hisham added that according to the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019, an estimated 21.3 per cent of Malaysians are smokers.
Meanwhile, actions were taken by the ministry against 118 individuals who sold cigarettes and tobacco products online under the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 and the Poisons Act 1952 throughout the Movement Control Order (MC) and COnditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).
Dr Noor Hisham highlighted that the ministry together with the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society, Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia and Universiti Kebangsaaan Malaysia have created an online counselling service for those seeking to quit smoking at https://jomquit.moh.gov.my/.
“Since March 18, 400 smokers had registered seeking help to stop smoking. More than 5,000 people had visited www.jomquit.moh.gov.my. It shows that smokers are now conscious about the dangers of smoking especially during this Covid-19 pandemic,” he revealed, adding that online sales through e-commerce platforms are on the rise, especially during the MCO and CMCO.
Dr Noor Hisham also gave assurance that the Health Ministry will continue to monitor online sales of tobacco products. — DayakDaily