PETALING JAYA: The Academy of Professors Malaysia (APM) has expressed concern over a recent statement by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing on the link between smoking and cancer.
Its medicine and health cluster chairman Dr Mohamed Rusli Abdullah said numerous parties, including the Malaysian Medical Association and former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye, previously commented on established scientific evidence of cigarette smoke hazards.
He also advised Tiong and others like him to thoroughly examine information on the connection between tobacco and various cancers worldwide, including in Malaysia.
According to the Universiti Sains Malaysia School of Medical Sciences professor, over 15 different types of cancer are confirmed to be associated with tobacco use.
“The well-documented connection has been widely discussed at global and local conferences and published in reputable journals. These findings were supported by substantial evidence, including research presented at forums.”
He said the link between smoking and lung cancer was confirmed in 1950 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
“The agency identified over 70 carcinogens in tobacco smoke, which remains a pivotal milestone in understanding the connection between smoking and lung cancer, compelling ongoing efforts to address and mitigate public health risks associated with tobacco use.
“Almost 50% of adult men are smokers, so the prevalence of smoking-related cancers is significant in Malaysia. Despite being the third most common cancer in the country, lung cancer often presents (itself) at advanced stages, impacting survival rates.”
Mohamed Rusli, who is also Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital public health unit coordinator, said the Health Ministry estimated related treatment costs at RM132.7 million, contributing significantly to the nation’s expenditure.
“APM emphasises the urgency of implementing effective strategies such as the Generational Endgame (policy) to curb the tobacco epidemic. We need to recognise and act upon conclusive evidence linking smoking to various cancers.”
He added that a clear and concise message must be effectively communicated to policymakers and the public, following the completion of a research study.
“By conveying the findings transparently and comprehensively, they can make decisions and be informed about potential changes in policies or practices.
“This communication fosters a better understanding of research outcomes, enhances public awareness and facilitates the implementation of informed policies for the benefit of society.”