Materia Medica Malaysiana

July 25, 2007

Doctors, nurses need to help smokers quit habit

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 3:05 pm

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Although smoking is hazardous to health, doctors, nurses and others in the health industry are doing very little to help smokers to quit.
The Malaysian Medical Association’s Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Committee chairman Prof Dr Lekhraj Rampal said yesterday that health professionals could play a very important role in discouraging smoking.
“In community and clinical settings, as health professionals you are the most knowledgeable in health matters and you are expected to act on the basis of this knowledge. Unfortunately, it is not being done,” he told the New Straits Times.
Dr Rampal said health professionals should also be role models for the population but there were many who were smokers themselves.
The NST had on June 1 highlighted that Malaysians were spending RM15 million daily on the “poison stick”.
Despite an aggressive approach by the government in the “Tak Nak” campaign, Malaysians continue to smoke some 30 million sticks of cigarettes a day. This adds up to a staggering RM6 billion going up in smoke every year.
A study by ASH revealed that 50 per cent of the more than 3.5 million smokers nationwide smoked nearly 10 sticks a day.
If the remaining 50 per cent smoked five cigarettes a day, this would amount to a total of nearly 11 million sticks a day. ASH is concerned that many of the smokers are between 15 and 25 years old.
“Tobacco is hazardous to health. There are about 4,000 known chemicals in tobacco smoke, with more than 50 of them likely to cause cancer,” warned Dr Rampal.
He said health professionals needed to address tobacco dependence as part of their standard of care practice.
“Questions about tobacco use should be included when monitoring vital signs and at every encounter with a patient,” he said, adding that doctors should ask about tobacco use, advise users to quit, assess their willingness to quit, help them to quit and arrange follow-ups.

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