Hey - Smoking is uncool!

12 March 2014

By Elelyn Ho

Television and movies show some of our favourite stars lighting up cigarettes as if it were as natural as breathing air. Whilst smoking seems to be declining amongst people in Europe and other developed countries, in Malaysia – we seem to be seeing more and more youth smoking in public with nonchalance. It used to be that smoking was done in “secret” by some bent on defying their parents and school rules. When they were caught in the act – you could bet there would be punishment. What’s an even more worrying trend is the number of young women puffing away in their very fashionable togs!

I was at a mamak restaurant and saw an attractive lady with a boy come in for some food. The boy must have been about 8 years old or so. Promptly after the lady (presumably the mother, aunty or caregiver) had finished her meal, she lighted up her cigarette in front of the child. What kind of message are we really giving the children of today?

Just how does smoking affect our bodies?

(passive smoking is equally dangerous)

Cosmetic effects or effects on appearance

  • The facial skin is more prone to wrinkles and is “drier” (Ladies – take note!)
  • Teeth become stained yellow-brown
  • Contribute to bad breath
  • Fingers and finger nails may become stained yellow

Causes or contributes to cancer risks
Smoking increases cancers in many organs but specifically – lungs, larynx, pharynx, oesophagus, bladder, kidneys and pancreas. Smoking has been implicated in cancers of the stomach, breasts, liver, cervix and leukaemia.

Lung diseases
This is one of the organs directly and most affected by smoking. Smoking causes progressive lung disease that finally results in difficulty in breathing (breathlessness) and faulty air-exchange in your lungs due to destruction of your air passages. Infections of the lungs are also more common or have an easier time taking a foothold in smokers. It is not a pleasant death…to be gradually “suffocated” or feel out of breath all the time! Gasping to your end seems to be an unusual risk for anyone to make – refusing to give up smoking or starting the habit!

Smoking is known to increase your heart rate and cause your heart to work harder. It is also bad for your blood vessels.

Fertility, miscarriages and your unborn baby!
Smoking reduces fertility and in men, there is higher incidence of impotence. The rate of miscarriages is also higher if you smoke during pregnancy.

If you are pregnant, you are at higher risk of complications during your pregnancy and do have a heart for your unborn child. The innocent growing fetus/baby may have a lower birth weight which then predisposes it to higher risks of death and diseases in infancy and early childhood.

Take up the challenge – beat smoking!

The Malaysian government has already taken up the challenge of fighting this habit that kills millions world wide and consumes budgets allocated to health and problems associated with smoking. However, it is really a responsibility that everyone should take seriously as there is really no one to blame if your child picks up smoking but yourself. Are we ready to assume this responsibility to make our air and world a better place for our children?

While we are at it, there should be a ban on smoking in all movies and shows – make sure the script does not require smoking unless it is to show the detrimental effects of smoking!

International Union Against Cancer Issues Lung Cancer Alert

Warning that deaths from tobacco use are set to soar, International Union Against Cancer (UICC) are calling on governments worldwide to back a new international treaty on tobacco, which will become law in 40 countries on 27th February 2005.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the world’s first-ever public health treaty, commits governments to enacting public policies that will cut tobacco consumption, including: increasing tobacco taxes; placing large health warning on packs; banning all tobacco promotion; and making public places smoke-free. As at 25 February 2005, there were 57 parties to the FCTC.

UICC warned that around one in five of all cancers worldwide are caused by tobacco. Each year, tobacco kills around 5 million people, of whom 1.2 million die of lung cancer. Tobacco is also a cause of other cancers, including cancers of the mouth, head and neck; kidney; pancreas; bladder; and uterine cervix.

Speaking from the UICC Secretariat in Geneva, Isabel Mortara, UICC Executive Director said, “Lung cancer will kill 1.2 million people this year – many of whom will be in the developing world. And as tobacco consumption continues to climb in much of the developing world, lung cancer rates are set to soar.”

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

The treaty requires ratifying nations to eliminate all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, with a narrow exception for nations whose constitutions prohibit a complete ban; requires warning labels to occupy a minimum of 30 percent of the front and back of every pack of cigarettes; urges nations to adopt larger warning labels of 50 percent or more; requires the prohibition of misleading tobacco product descriptors such as “light” and “mild”; commits nations to protecting nonsmokers from tobacco smoke in public places; urges strict regulation of tobacco product contents; and calls for higher tobacco taxes, global coordination to fight tobacco smuggling, and promotion of tobacco prevention, cessation and research programs.

Useful Links

Action on Smoking and Health


Tobacco Information and Prevention Source (TIPS)


Medline Plus Information on smoking


Kids’ Health for Kids – Smoking Stinks!


BBC news: Smoking Killing Millions Globally