Tobacco kills over 160,000 Pakistanis every year: PM’s aide

Published June 1, 2021
Members of the civil society get ready to release balloons outside the National Press Club in Islamabad on Monday on the occasion of World No-tobacco Day. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
Members of the civil society get ready to release balloons outside the National Press Club in Islamabad on Monday on the occasion of World No-tobacco Day. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan on Monday said that tobacco killed nearly eight million people globally every year.

“More than 7 million of these deaths are from direct tobacco use and around 1.2 million non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. According to Global Burden of disease study (2019) death toll caused by factors attributable to tobacco is 163,671.54 in Pakistan,” he said while speaking to participants of an event held on World No-Tobacco Day.

During the event Ministry of National Health Services and World Health Organization (WHO) signed a Letter of Intent with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS).

Under the agreement, thousands of volunteers registered with the PRCS will be trained to participate in campaigns designed to promote awareness about the hazards of tobacco use and other substances inimical to health.

PRCS Chairman Abrarul Haq and Director of the Smoke-Free Cities Project Dr Minhajus Siraj also attended the ceremony.

Dr Sultan said the government would continue to strive to raise awareness and promote a smoke-free society by providing a counter-marketing campaign, awareness against nicotine use and empower young people to engage in the fight against tobacco. He called upon every Pakistani to contribute to this cause to safeguard the health and well being of present and future generations.

Head of WHO Country Office Dr Palitha Mahipala appreciated the initiatives of the government for tobacco control.

Pakistan has 29m smokers

According to a recent study published in the Lancet journal, The number of smokers in Pakistan have reached over 29 million while the total number of tobacco users in the world stands at 1.1 billion.

The UK based Lancet is one of the oldest international medical journal founded in 1823.

Dr Ziauddin Islam, former head of the Tobacco Control Cell, Pakistan and Country’s former focal person for World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) said the government should increase tax on all tobacco products in the upcoming budget.

According to the study, half of all the countries had made no progress in stopping uptake among 15 to 24-year-old and the average age for someone to start smoking was 19, when it is legal in most places.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Hamza Shafqaat and Chromatic Trust have joined hands to raise awareness against Tobacco Consumption on the World No-tobacco Day.

In a unique event outside the National Press Club here on Monday, balloons were released carrying the Winner Design of “tobacco free youth postcard campaign” by Chromatic Trust. The aim was to tell the world that Islamabad was ready and willing to go the extra mile against a menace that is not only harmful, but actually plays with the future of our country.

Walk held

Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) arranged a walk to create awareness among the people to quit smoking and adopt healthy life.

A walk was held from Liaquat Bagh to Rawalpindi Press Club, led by Dr Abdul Qayyum Awan, Senior Vice President of Panah, Ghulam Abbasi, Vice President, Sanaullah Ghumman, General Secretary and senior members of Panah.

Speaking on the occasion, Panah General Secretary Sanaullah Ghumman said World No-Tobacco Day aimed at drawing global attention to “tobacco and its untimely deaths and diseases.”

He said that about 30 million of 15-year-old adults in Pakistan use tobacco, which causes a number of diseases, including heart disease, cancer, premature death and other deadly diseases.

Other speakers said that tobacco consumption faces an economic, health and health burden of Rs. 615 billion per year. The tobacco industry paid a total of Rs120 billion in taxes in 2019, which was only 20pc of the total cost of smoking.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2021

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