It’s not uncommon in Malaysia, to see a parent walking around with their children while smoking or vaping. As parents ourselves, we are strong advocates that adults need to be positive role models for the younger generation. It broke our hearts to read a recent article that reported about a woman who allegedly encouraged her toddler son to vape. This shows ignorance on a parent’s part on the ill effects of smoking (including vaping) to a child and adults alike.
Our children are watching us and learning from our behaviours. Studies elsewhere show that children are more likely to smoke when their father and mother smoke. In certain countries, parental influence (taken as parental behaviour and attitude together) proved to be a more important role than peer influence in smoking among adolescence.
Ask any Malaysian, and they will tell you the ill effects of smoking, but many might not be aware of the influence they have on our young ones. Now more than ever, it is important for us to remain healthy and resilient. A recent article cites that smokers were twice as likely as non-smokers to develop complications with COVID-19 infections.
Many of us are working from home this MCO, while others who are unfortunate, maybe home due to loss of work. Social isolation is very difficult. While some studies show that the pandemic has been an excellent opportunity to stop smoking, there are other evidence to show that the additional stress from the pandemic has led to a higher smoking rate.
Just recently we celebrated the World No Tobacco Day. Smokers should take this opportunity to quit smoking. Think of this MCO as an opportunity to gain more than what we have lost, keeping in mind that vaping is not the solution. It is just a different mode of smoking. Try to distract yourself as the cravings come on, instead. Exercise is a perfect example of an alternative habit– even walking around your street can help. Many people associate smoking with certain activities such as drinking coffee or alcohol. Identify what your triggers are and break the pattern with alternative habit. Catch up with your family and friends via a phone call with your morning coffee. Physical distancing does not have to equate to social distancing.
Get virtual help from your nearest clinics or pharmacies, or you can also visit and register for a quit smoking program at www.jomquit.com. Do not hesitate to ask your healthcare providers for nicotine replacement therapy. Your action now will determine your future to grow old healthier with your family and the health of our future generation.
DR NURHALIZA ZAKARIAH
DR ARUNAH CHANDRAN