Pakistan among top 15 countries having most tobacco-related diseases

Presently, 31.8% of men, 5.8 of women and 19.1 of the youth are tobacco addicts.

Tobacco consumption across the world is increasing at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, Pakistan is equally plagued by the curse. In a shocking revelation, with more than 56.7 per cent tobacco consumers, Pakistan is among the 15 countries worldwide with a heavy burden of tobacco-related health issues.

Currently, there are some 31.8 per cent men, 5.8pc women and 19.1pc youth who are addicted to tobacco in some form. The views were expressed by a panel of experts at the launch of the Pakistan Civil Society Alliance for Tobacco Control. The event was organized by the Human Development Foundation (HDF) at a local hotel on Tuesday.

The panellists included Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of HDF Azhar Saleem, Zahid Thebo, Regional Manager SPARC, Sanaullah Ghumman, General Secretary Panah, Dr Shelina Bhanami, Assistant Professor Aga Khan University, Imdad Soomro, Senior Investigative Journalist, Dr Syed Zafar Hussain Shah, Head of Medical Surgery, Memon Medical Institute Hospital, Zahid Shafiq, PM-HDF.

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CEO HDF Azhar Saleem said that the World Health Organization’s 2013’s standardized estimate of smoking prevalence revealed the above-mentioned statistics. Among them, 17.9 pc of men, 1 pc of women and 9.6 pc of the adult population overall are daily cigarette smokers, while 4.4 pc men, 1 pc women and 2.7 pc of the adult population are daily water pipe smokers.

“The numbers envisage an alarming revelation i.e. the ratio of male to female smokers has increased in the Youth bracket. In the adult bracket, there is 1 female smoker for every 5 male smokers; however, in the youth age bracket, for every 2 boys, there is 1 girl, who is smoking. These trends are not a mere myth. A recent study conducted by HDF, PANAH, FFC and SPARC with the name of ‘Big Tobacco, Tiny Targets’ reveal how tobacco advertisement, product display and sales around primary and secondary schools by the tobacco industry has carefully chosen the youth, specifically girls as the target audience for their new tobacco campaign” – he said. 

“This is due to the insufficient reporting mechanism to testify any violation of the Tobacco control laws in the country and the ignorance about the need to carefully implement these laws. While the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health Ordinance (2002) does prohibit the use of tobacco in public places, the gaps in the law have caused the Tobacco industry to manipulate them. The following gaps have been identified in the Non-Smokers Health Ordinance of Pakistan”– he added.

As Sanaullah Ghumman of Panah reveals, there has been a complete smoking ban in the healthcare facilities, primary and secondary schools, universities, private offices, government facilities, public transport and restaurants. However, despite this ban, the sale of cigarettes within the 50-meter vicinity of schools and colleges is still prevalent.

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