The government has to spend around RM16 billion a year to treat patients with diseases due to their smoking habit.
Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the amount spent was four times the excise duty on cigarettes collected by the government, estimated at RM4 billion per year.
He said the expenditure was based on the estimated treatment cost figures obtained from the government and private hospitals and clinics, involving patients with various health issues due to their smoking habit.
“For every RM1 earned from excise duty on cigarettes, the government has to spend RM4 to treat patients who are habitual smokers.
“As we all know, the smoking habit is among the causes of various diseases like cancer, and heart and lung problems," Lee told reporters after officiating the ministry’s Health Promotion Smart Networking Programme town hall session in Shah Alam today.
Also present was the ministry’s education division director Suraiya Syed Mohamed.
On the ministry’s quit-smoking programme, Lee said for the 2012-2018 period, 73,836 smokers participated in the programme, with 23 percent or 16,930 smokers kicking the smoking habit.
“There are 46 government hospitals and 731 government health clinics across the country which provide the quit-smoking service. The government hopes that this service is publicised,” he added.
Earlier in his speech, the deputy minister said combating the smoking habit was part of an important national agenda which should be widely disseminated to the public as there were many hardcore smokers who needed to be convinced to kick the habit.
“The ministry had gazetted 23 areas as ‘no smoking’ places and the latest move was to ban smoking within a distance of three metres from eateries. This is part of efforts to prevent non-smokers from being exposed to cigarette smoke," he added.