Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) is a component of the Global Tobacco Surveillance System (GTSS), launched in February 2007. It is the global standard for systematically monitoring adult tobacco use (smoking and smokeless) and tracking key tobacco control indicators using national and subnational estimates on tobacco use, exposure to second hand smoking and frequency of quit attempts at the urban/rural and by gender level. GATS indirectly measures the impact of tobacco control and prevention initiatives. It also assists countries to fulfill their obligations under the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to generate comparable data within and across countries. GATS has been implemented in 14 countries globally where more than half of the world's population comprising of smokers live. Malaysia comes within the Phase 2 countries for the GATS project.
In Malaysia, GATS was conducted in 2011 as a nationally representative household survey of persons 15 years of age and older using a standard core questionaire plus country adapted questions, sampe design, as well as data collection and management procedures. The Institute for Public Health (IPH) is the implementing agency for GATS Malaysia, in collaboration with the Tobacco Control Unit & FCTC Secretariat, Diseases Control Division, Health Education Division, Ministry of Health Malaysian and University of Malaya. WHO Geneva provided the financial support for conducting GATS Malaysia.
A multi-stage stratified probability sampling design was used to select 426 enumeration blocks and 5112 living quarters for the survey. One individual was randonly chosen from each selected living quarter to participate in the survey.
GATS was the first nationwide household survey by IPH to be conducted using handheld devices. Data collection was outsourced to a research company and this was the first time IPH outsourced data collection activity. Data collection was commenced immediately after training of field staff for a period of eight weekes; i.e. from 24 October to 18 December 2011. Data collection was via face-to-face interview using a structured, pre-tested questionaire. There were a total of 4742 completed interviews.
Data was analysed using sample weights which was approved by GATS Sample Review Committee. A Report and Fact Sheet were produced four months after data collection.
A conference on GATS Malaysia 2011 was held in conjunction with the 15th NIH Scientific Meeting and National Health & Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2011 on 14 June 2012 at the Holiday Villa, Subang Jaya, Selangor. The conference consisted of a plenary session and two symposia on GATS findings. In addition, a total of 11 posters on various aspects of GATS were presented. The topics covered in the conference included tobacco consumption, nicotine dependence, smoking cessation, secondhand smoking, economics, media, knowledge and attitudes and perceptions.
In conjunction with the conference, the Director General of Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia launched the GATS fact sheet. Apart from the top management of MOH, Dr Han Tieru, Director, Building Healthy Populations and Communitis, WHO Western Pacific Regional Office; Mr Jeremy E Morton, Senior Survey Mehodologist, Global Tobacco Control Branch, Office on Smoking and Health, Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Atlanta, USA and Dr Soo Chun Pual, Programme Officer, WHO Representative Office for Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Singapore also attended the Launching Ceremony. The Fact Sheet was subsequently uploaded onto the websites of CDC and WHO.
The GATS Report and Fact Sheet were distributed to stakeholders, State Health Offices, universities, libraries and other related organisations in October 2012.
The results of GATS provide special insights into the scale of tobacco problems in Malaysia and offer indication for appropriate response action.