Thinking Outside the KOTAK
Written by Bryan Tan – Marketing and Communications Associate at YPC, currently a PRP at a retail pharmacy, and pun enthusiast
Established in 2016, the Oral Health Program – Kesihatan Oral Tanpa Asap Rokok (KOTAK) is a prominent initiative by the Ministry of Health Malaysia and the Ministry of Education Malaysia which aims to control tobacco-related oral diseases and adverse conditions through several strategies among school children. This effort is also a part of smart-partnership and effective networking with various stakeholders and agencies.
This year, the Tobacco Free Generation International (TFGi) has been invited to KOTAK convention 2019 on the 19th – 20th June at Melaka International Trade Center (MITC), Melaka to deliver the Tobacco Free Generation (TFG) concept. This concept started in 2010 and aims to protect future generations from the ravages of tobacco addiction by educating the younger ones what society has neglected from their conventionally teachings. This concept and approach have garnered a significant global following, becoming an international social movement that re-balances the landscape of teenage addiction. It even unites smokers and non-smokers for a smoke-free future.
During the presentation, the concept has been structured into 2 topics:
Topic 1: Presenting Tobacco Free Generation Endgame to School Children
Topic 2: Tobacco Free Generation Endgame Overcomes the Unrecognised Blind Spots, The Socially Divisive Outcome and the Difficulties in Implementing of Current Tobacco Policies.
The first topic was delivered mainly by 4 young student leaders (Janice Koong, Chappidi Sri Pranita, Jessica Koong, and Joanne Koong) from Singapore and was supported by our Marketing and Communication Director of the MPS – Young Pharmacist Chapter, Mr. Lok Kok Hou. During the presentation, Mr. Lok Kok Hou has also shared his view on the fact that perhaps our professional training has narrowed our perspective in such a way that we instinctively associate tobacco-use reduction efforts with smoking cessation therapy and often forget about the bigger picture. The presentation was with hopes that both the public and relevant professionals will be able to get some insights and subsequently support the concept here in Malaysia.
The second topic was then delivered by Dr. Koong Heng Nung, the Founding Director of TFGi and Dr. Ho Gay Hui. The session was also supported and moderated by Dr. Zarihah Binti Dato’ Mohd Zain and Dr. Lydia Mason from the Malaysian Women’s Action for Tobacco Control and Health (MyWATCH) group. The second topic mainly emphasized on the distinct advantage of the TFG ecosystem:
- It does not target addicted, adult smokers but instead, focuses on providing evidence-based tobacco prevention education for kids.
- Smokers, no longer being targeted, support TFG as they do want their children and future generations to not start smoking.
- This unity of both smokers and non-smokers for a common healthier, future population is more harmonious than the current divisive tobacco control regulations that penalize, alienate and divide our people, allowing the tobacco addiction to prevail.
- It is inexpensive and captivating as it mobilizes the creativity and social media networks of the young people.
Overall, the TFG concept has received positive feedback from the KOTAK 2019 convention’s delegates which includes various healthcare agencies, non-governmental organization, educators and students from school and academician from the local universities.