ISLAMABAD: Tobacco control advocates have demanded the government take measures against the rampant rise in tobacco usage mainly among the youth.

The Pakistan National Heart Association (Panah) organised a conference, “Revenue from tobacco at the cost of Pakistani youth” to highlight the increase in the net profit of the tobacco industry as reported in the fiscal year 2020-21.

The speakers said the increase in tobacco consumption was a matter of concern as it claims around 166,000 lives in Pakistan.

They said a survey of World Health Organisation (WHO) showed that around 1,200 children between the age of six and 15 started smoking in Pakistan daily.

Sanaullah Ghumman, Panah’s general secretary, said tobacco is very harmful to health and its regular use is a major cause of heart, cancer and other deadly diseases. He said Pakistan was one of the 15 countries that used tobacco extensively.Malik Imran, country head of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said the future of our children is being ruined, smoking has become a social evil. The government is spending on tobacco-related diseases while tobacco-related laws have become ineffective.

“All this is due to the relaxation of state policies regarding taxes on tobacco products,” he added,

“The reason is that more than 50 chemicals in smoking cause cancer and every hour 12 Pakistanis die due to heart attack which is mainly due to smoking; 438 lives are lost daily due to tobacco use,” he added.

Society for Protection of the Rights of the Children correspondent Khalil Ahmad, representative of Human Development Foundation Ms Iram, politicians, medical and legal experts participated in the conference.

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2021

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