In line with the nation’s efforts on smoking cessation, Johnson & Johnson Sdn Bhd (J&J Malaysia) has launched the first “Smoke Free Workforce” initiative, supported by the Health Ministry and a panel of top industry leaders, who have pledged to implement this initiative within their organisations.

The initiative calls for organisation leaders and pioneers from top corporations to be directly involved in championing the cause for a healthier and smoke-free workforce.

Spearheaded by J&J Malaysia’s managing director Chin Keat Chyuan, the panel includes the likes of Sunway Group chairman Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah, AIA Bhd CEO Anusha Thavarajah and AirAsia, uniting to nurture a healthier future generation, which resonates with the national agenda of a smoke-free era by 2045.

The launch was attended by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

The 2015 National Health and Morbidity Survey revealed that among the productive age group of individuals in Malaysia, nearly one in four individuals (22.8%), totalling 4.9 million, are smokers.

Among these, the greater part (52.3%) had attempted to quit, yet approximately only one in 10 admitted to visiting appropriate healthcare providers for the support required to help them successfully quit smoking.

The Smoke Free Workforce initiative aims to help 2% out of the estimated 4.9 million smokers in Malaysia quit smoking annually.

This will further facilitate the Ministry’s goal of assisting 130,000 smokers to quit smoking each year, over the next three years.

“This is a first-of-its-kind initiative that is targeted at smokers who are in the workforce. Working adults are crucial not only to our economy, but they are also every organisation’s biggest asset.

“Thus, investing in the efforts of increasing their well-being and creating an improved workforce not only bring great benefits to the employees, but also the company,” said Chin.

“At J&J, we are constantly dedicated to discovering ways to improve the health and quality of life.

“We understand that smokers need support and assistance to quit. As part of our efforts in this initiative, J&J Malaysia is offering subsidised pharmacotherapy starter kits, a health talk and information booths that include the smokerlyser test at participating companies.

“By providing cessation activities and offering a healthy, smoke-free work environment, employers can help employees to quit smoking.”

This is not the first time the Health Ministry is in support of J&J Malaysia’s smoking cessation efforts.

In 2015, the national mQuit programme was launched under a Memorandum of Understanding between the ministry and J&J, together with Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Malaya and Malaysian Academy of Pharmacy.

At the event, J&J Malaysia committed to introduce a new employee benefit scheme extended to all J&J employees and their immediate family members who are smokers to quit smoking by offering a cessation programme assisted by trained healthcare providers and counselling services.

At the event, the panel shared how they will move forward to achieve a smoke-free workforce through their personal commitment and contribution in this initiative

Cheah has always been a strong advocate of a smoke-free environment. In addition to making all of their Sunway-owned buildings and premises a smoke-free establishment, the Group will continue to progressively carry out comprehensive smoking cessation plans and internal activities to educate their employees of the benefits of a smoke-free workforce.

Anusha is excited about this initiative as it supports the various programmes and activities that AIA has launched to encourage its customers, employees and Life Planners to lead healthier lifestyles.

Last June, the insurer launched AIA Vitality, a health programme integrated with insurance benefits. Apart from promoting fitness and good nutritional habits, the programme also supports and encourages its members to quit smoking.

In addition to launching the smoking cessation programme for its 2,300-strong workforce, as the leading provider of employee benefits in Malaysia, AIA intends to be an active advocate of a smoke-free workforce and will explore avenues to expand the reach of the programme to include its corporate clients.

AirAsia has endorsed smoking cessation through a variety of efforts, including removal of all cigarettes and tobacco products from their workplace convenience stores.

As part of AirAsia’s participation in the Smoke Free initiative, they will be accrediting their in-house clinic to a mQuit panel for their employees.

The airline will also be implementing the Smoke Free Workforce information booth and activities during their health awareness month.