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How Smoking Harm Our Nation?

We often hear that our nation’s vision is to achieve developed nation status by 2020.

What Does It Mean If We Become A Developed Nation?

A developed nation is one which could guarantee high standard of living for its people. Also could guarantee the welfare of current generation as well as the future generations. The economy has reached its peak. Production and consumption are also high.

As a developed nation we aim to achieve average income of the people at RM78,800 per annum in 2020 . It also means that the monthly income should be about RM6,600. Presently, the average income of the people is about RM54,000 per annum, which gives us a monthly income of RM4,500. These figures show us that our journey to become a developed nation is still quite far.

How To Be A Developed Nation?

There are several factors which are needed to help us achieve the status of developed nation, they include;

  • High quality of human capital
  • High quantity physical capital
  • Rapid innovation and high technology level

The Connection Between Smoking & Achieving Developed Nation Status

Smoking occurred among workers. A total of one-third of the population is diagnosed as smokers. These workers will make up the labor force. We will see how smoking can affect the quality of the labor force in several ways. Therefore smoking will indirectly affect the nation. Labor quality can be enhanced by providing them with human capital.

Human Capital

The expenditures made to improve the quality of workers are called human capital investment. This includes spending on education and health.

(i) Education

Aspects of education have long been given attention by the government and individuals. This can be seen through increased in the number of schools and public and private institutes of higher education in the country.

Government has placed high importance on education and training. These are clearly seen with large allocations given to this sector for the year 2013, which is 21.7 per cent (RM54 billion) of total government expenditure.

Each family is also, without doubt willing to invest money to ensure their children’s high performance in the examinations. These included sending them to tuition classes, in addition to learning in schools. Some studies showed that the average family spends one-tenth of the family income for this private tuition purposes.

(ii) Health

However, the same attention is not given to health. This occurs at both the individual and government levels. Government budgetary allocations for the health sector in 2013 are only 7.7 per cent (RM 19 billion).

Normally health issues will be addressed only after the person gets sick. Employees, who are not healthy, not only hurt themselves and their family, but will also affect the country.

How Smokers Harm Themselves And Their Families?

When someone is sick, few things will happen, for example;

  • High medical costs.
  • High absenteeism.
  • Low productivity, resulting in fewer opportunities for promotion and salary increment.
  • Shorter life expectancy.
  • High medical costs.

Smoking not only affects the health of smokers themselves, but will have an effect on those around him. Family members, such as the children are also vulnerable. So smoking will certainly increase the cost of family health.

Families in Malaysia have spent about RM17.2 million a year or two per cent of the national income for treatments of illnesses associated with smoking.

  • High absenteeism

The health status of smokers is considerably less well than non-smokers. Therefore the work performance of smokers will also be affected. Some studies conclude that absenteeism for smokers is 48.5 percent higher than non-smokers.

  • Low productivity, resulting in fewer opportunities for promotion and salary increment

Employees who are always sick, absenteeism rate would be high. They will be seen as a burden by the employer. And as employers are bound by labor laws, action cannot be taken against these workers. What will happen is, these employees will not be considered for promotion or salary increase. This is certainly will hurt workers and their families.

  • Shorter life expectancy

Studies showed that each cigarette smoked will shorten the smoker’s life by 11 minutes. For heavy smokers, the study found that their life will be 10 years shorter compared to non-smokers.

All the figures are horrifying. But the fact is the early death of smokers who are also the main breadwinner, of course, to the affect the family badly.

How Smoking Harm Our Nation?

The ever-increasing number of smokers if is not checked, will cause the following problems;

  • Increased public health costs.
  • Labour productivity declined.
  • The production of the country fell.
  • Economic growth is stunted.

(i) Increased public health costs

Most people in this country depend on government hospitals for treatment. According to Ministry of Health statistics, in 2010, the number of patients admitted to hospitals because of illness related to the respiratory tract is the second highest, with 10:36 per cent, after the case of pregnancy and childbirth. This also means that the government spends a large amount of resources to treat illness caused by this bad habit.

(ii) Low productivity, low output and stunted economic growth

If at the individual level, smoking causes increased employee absenteeism, and ultimately the impact felt in the form of reduced family income for now and in the future. For the country, the effects of smoking and high absenteeism will reduce employee productivity. As a result, production will decrease and our nation cannot compete in the international market.

Foreign investors will also be looking at the productivity of workers in a country before deciding to invest their funds. If the employee health problems associated with smoking is not checked, then the chances of attracting foreign investors will decline.

All that has been said can be summarized in Figure 1. Clearly smoking can harm the country. That is when workers who smoke get sick. Next productivity will go down. This ultimately affects the production of the country, and the opportunities for us become a developed nation. This is how smoking harm our nation. As a result the country is not able to continue the development programs that ensure the achievement of Vision of 2020.

Figure 1: How Smoking Reduced National Production

How Smoking Reduced National Production2



  1. Annual Report, 2011, Ministry of Health Malaysia.
  2. Economic Report 2011, Ministry of Finance, Malaysia.


Last Reviewed : 7 February 2017
Translator : Dr. Zaleha binti Mohd Nor
Accreditor : Dr. Norashidah binti Mohamed Nor

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