13th APACT 2021 under the theme “Professional Alliance Moving Together for a Tobacco-Free Society”

On the 3rd and 4th September 2021, the 13th Asia Pacific Conference on Tobacco or Health (13th APACT 2021), hosted in Bangkok, Thailand, successfully reached out to over four thousand participants virtually in 35 countries. The 13th APACT 2021 under the theme “Professional Alliance Moving Together for a Tobacco-Free Society” was conducted virtually while the world continues to struggle with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The formation of APACT came about due to the rigorous marketing efforts of the Tobacco Industry that raise concern to the health and development advocates in the region. Asia Pacific region has the highest number of tobacco consumption globally. With the economic and demographic growth, the region has become a crucial market and prime target for transnational tobacco industries on expanding business. In line with the World Conference on Tobacco or Health, executive members of APACT organized biennial meetings named Asia Pacific Conference on Tobacco or Health (APACT).

The first APACT was held in Taipei, Taiwan on June 12th, 1989. Since then, APACT has developed and become a regional forum to exchange and share strategies, experiences, and research, as well as to strengthen networks in tobacco control among Asia Pacific countries. APACT bring together the region’s high-level delegates and key stakeholders to co-create holistic solutions, to facilitate partnerships, and to share best practices on global tobacco control challenge towards ending the tobacco epidemic.

Associate Professor Dr Farizah Mohd Hairi at far bottom right

Associate Professor Dr Farizah Mohd Hairi presented “Use of e-cigarettes, reasons for use, and perceptions of harms among Malaysian smokers: Findings from the 2011-2014 ITC Malaysia Surveys”, as part of the Tobacco Control Research and Knowledge Management Centre (TRC) International Symposium on Use of Tobacco Products and E-Cigarettes in the Asia-Pacific Region: Findings from the ITC Project on 4th September 2021 morning session.

In summary,

  • Awareness, trial, and use of e-cigarettes increased among Malaysian smokers from 2011-12 to 2013-14
    • Smokers using e-cigarettes: increased from 22% to 32%
    • Smokers using e-cigarettes at least once/week: increased from 6% to 8%
  • Most common reasons for using e-cigarettes in both years:
    • Cut down on number of combustible cigarettes (52%)
    • When unable to smoke due to restrictions (47%)
    • To quit smoking (47%)
  • Smokers were much more likely to believe that e-cigarettes are as harmful or more harmful than cigarettes in 2013-2014 (70%) than in 2011-2012 (34%)

Therefore, there is a need to continue to track the use of e-cigarettes and reasons for use in Malaysia, where the use of e-cigarettes has been high, compared to other Asia Pacific countries.

Dr Farizah also had the opportunity to showcase the University of Malaya’s Smoke-Free Campus activities after her symposium presentation together with Indonesia’s and Singapore’s universities at a session on ‘Tobacco control in The ASEAN University Network (AUN)’.

Malaysia will host the next APACT14 conference. The University of Malaya is proud to co-host this event with the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM), Ministry of Health Malaysia and Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCeb). Associate Professor Dr Amer Siddiq Amer Nordin, Director of UMCares, Consultant Psychiatrist and Chairman of the 14th APACT 2023 Conference received the handover virtually. During the closing plenary lecture, Dr Amer Siddiq concluded the presentation on “From Bali to Bangkok Towards Kuala Lumpur: What have we got?”

At the closing ceremony, the “APACT Passover from Thailand to Malaysia” video was also presented:

Associate Professor Dr Amer Siddiq Amer Nordin at the closing plenary on 4th September 2021

The 13th APACT 2021 was a success, and the Thailand team did a great job, even though it was done virtually. The delegates of 13th APACT 2021 also declared that effective tobacco control is now more critical than ever and that they must stop the tobacco industry in its tracks as well as to accelerate the tobacco endgame. Hopefully, by 2023, we can have a face-to-face conference for the 14th APACT. We would like to take this opportunity to announce that University Malaya will co-host the 14th APACT Conference in 2023 with the theme, “SMART (Self-Monitoring Analysis & Reporting Technology) Smoke-Free Generation”. The theme is in line with increasing technology adoption in more countries, which makes the use of technology in tobacco control more viable.

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