ISLAMABAD: Wife of Surgeon General Lt-Gen Khawar Rehman on Tuesday advised the government to ban tobacco products so that youth could be protected from harmful effects of tobacco use.

She was addressing as chief guest a women wing session on ‘Role of Women in Controlling the Epidemic of Tobacco and Drugs Uses’ arranged by Pakistan National Heart Association (Panah).

The session was aimed at creating awareness about harmful effects of tobacco consumption on health.

Mrs Rehman said women could play vital role as mother, sister, daughter and wife in bringing up a child.

She said that mother was first teacher of her child and should educate him about right and wrong.

Panah President retired Maj Gen Masudur Rehman Kiani said approximately more than 5,000 people were admitted to hospital and over 400 people died due to smoking on daily basis, which showed that in Pakistan one person died in every three seconds.

DG Tobacco Control Cell Dr Minhajus Siraj said that he would continue working to save people from harms of tobacco use and make cities smoke-free zone.

Participants of the session urged the government to take steps for prevention of smoking and to make cigarettes out of reache of people specially children.

They said the simple solution to the problem was to raise price of cigarettes so that it could go out of reach of children.

They said it would also help reduce expenditure incurred by government on health.

Talking to Dawn Panah General Secretary Sanaullah Ghumman said after failing to convince the government and health departments, they decided to approach wife of Surgeon General of Pakistan to seek her advice for the government to ban tobacco products.

“In a recent visit to the US, Surgeon General Lt-Gen Khawar Rehman had suggested to the government to ban the tobacco products so that the youth of the country could be protected from hazards of tobacco,” Panah General Secretary Sanaullah Ghumman told Dawn.

“We have been requesting the President, parliamentarians, parliamentary committees and government representatives to ban tobacco product but unfortunately no one took our demand seriously,” he said.

“After learning that the surgeon general has appealed to the government to ban tobacco, we have decided to contact his wife to get the same ban applied in our country too,” he said.

Mr Ghumman said according to reports over 1,200 children of 12 and 15 years of age became new smokers every day in Pakistan.

He said due to low tax rate on cigarette government was collecting less revenue and expenditure on health has been increased multiple times.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2020