Passive Smoking: Perceptions and Practices among Urban Working Adults

Background: Many are aware that smoking is harmful to the health of smokers but minimal concern is given to those around smokers who are known as passive smokers. Many nonsmokers are killed annually as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke. Passive smoking has also been strongly associated with poor health outcomes such as cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a range or cancers.

Aim & Objectives: To assess the awareness and practices among Malaysian urban working adults towards passive smoking.

Method: A cross-sectional survey to assess awareness and attitudes towards passive smoking was conducted among consenting working adults from urban areas in Malaysia.

Results: A total of 186 adults aged between 22-87 years participated in the study where 56.3% of the respondents were females and 43.7% males. Majority (98.9%) agreed that cigarette smoke is harmful to the non-smokers around while 22.4% were not sure if the smoke from shisha/water pipe was harmful. 66.1% agreed that sidestream smoke was more harmful than mainstream smoke whereas 29.5% were unsure which kind of smoke is more harmful. A total of 87.4% did not like people to smoke around them and 95.6% of the respondents did not like people to smoke in their house. Besides, 86.9% believed that smoking should not be permitted in the workplace. Most adults (74.9%) agreed that they have the right to ask people to not smoke in their presence whereas the rest (19.7%) were either unsure of their rights or disagreed (5.5%). Almost all of the participants (99.5%) felt that people should not smoke in front of children and children should be taught about the bad effects of smoking.

Conclusion: The awareness among urban working adults on passive smoking was fair though the practices were poor. Health education efforts on smoking should address the empowerment of non-smokers and must include culturally appropriate ways to express their desire for a smokefree environment.

Author(s): Jia Xuan Ooi, Kai Xuan Teh, Cai Liam Tam, Sivalal Sadasivan, Amudha Kadirvelu

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