More than 10,000 Malaysians die from smoking-related illnesses every year, said Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng.
He said that 30% of those above the age of 30 suffer from up to 40 kinds of illnesses which include heart problems and 57 types of cancer.
“Statistics show that every day about 50 teenagers below the age of 18 start smoking and most of them become hardcore smokers,” said Chua in a speech read by Kuala Dipang state assemblyman Dr Chong Fah during the anti-smoking run here Sunday.
He said that according to a recent World Health Organisation report, more than 100,000 youths started smoking daily.
“In 1998, the Government introduced therapy for smokers in four major hospitals in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Ipoh and Seremban.
“Today, 44 hospitals and 111 health centres provide this treatment,” he said.
Chua said that in 1999, about 1,000 smokers were able to kick the habit.
He added that the ministry had compounded 11,211 people for smoking in public places that year.
Of the number, 1,366 were youths.
Chua said the ministry was taking various steps to reduce the use of cigarette advertisements by sports and cultural organisations.
He said another measure taken was to direct manufacturers to reduce cigarettes’ tar content from 20mg to 15mg and nicotine from 1.5mg to 1.3mg.
About 1,000 adults and schoolchildren participated in the 4km run which was organised by the Malaysian Anti-Smoking Organisation.