SIBU: Assistant Minister of Youth Development Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah has expressed sadness that Sarawak has the highest number of teenage smokers.
Abdul Karim, also Asajaya assemblyman, called for concerted effort to curb the bad habit, saying smoking was hazardous to health, affecting the wellbeing of future leaders.
“As one can see, if one is aged 13 to 17, one is still considered to be schooling. Cigarettes are an expensive item and very high likelihood these teenagers are using their parents’ money or their daily allowances to buy this stuff when it should be used for more beneficial items,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.
He was reacting to a survey carried out in 2012 had listed Sarawak among the states in the country with the highest number of teenage smokers aged between 13 and 17 years old.
The National Health and Morbidity Survey was carried out on 1,633 Form 1 to Form 5 students in the state who were selected randomly with other students around the country.
Abdul Karim said: “Smoking is also not a good habit as it is hazardous to health…parents, guardians, teachers and the public should ensure our youths do not smoke or start smoking at an early age…they our hope for the future and we do not want to see this future leaders picking up this habit at such an early age.”
Sarawak Teachers’ Union (STU) president Jisin Nyud too expressed sadness to note that Sarawak is among the states in the country with the highest number of teenage smokers aged between 13 and 17.
“This is very serious as it involves our future generation and nothing is done to curb this matter, we are scared that this might lead to other serious matters such drugs and so forth,” Jisin cautioned.
He said while most children understood that smoking cigarettes was not good for them, some still decided to smoke. Children wanted to try cigarettes for reasons such as curiosity, to fit in with their friends or because they thought they would look cooler or older, observed Jisin.
But they might not realise that the decisions they made when they were young, didn’t just put them at risk for health problems later in life.
“No doubt that there are children who were caught in school for smoking but most of these children begin smoking while they are outside the school. Some of the children start smoking when they were in the primary school.”
He noted there are laws on cigarettes such the prohibition of selling cigarettes to minors and smoking in certain public premises but it seems that there is no awareness on its danger, calling for monitoring especially from the authorities concern.
Parents need to monitor what their children are especially when the children are at their tender age beginning at primary school, stressed Jisin.
He pointed out that in schools, students abide to the schools rules and regulation, shying away from smoking fearing of action would be taken against them.
However, when outside the school gate, they dared to puff even in front of their teachers, knowing that teachers would not be able to act on them.
“Therefore, it good that the parents and teachers work together via parent-teacher associations (PTAs) and other government agencies on how to help these students,” Jisin urged.