THE use of tobacco among youngsters, particularly university students, is a growing problem in Pakistan. Cigarettes are easily accessible to youngsters, even minors, from stores, shops, street vendors, kiosks, school canteens and pharmacies. According to a survey conducted by an NGO, 19.1 per cent of adults aged over 15 years currently use tobacco in any form; 31.8pc of men and 5.8pc of women. Second-hand smoking is even more common than active smoking.

Some of the known factors for smoking are psychological relaxation, pleasure and having smokers among family members, peers and teachers.

Many alternatives to cigarette smoking, such as e-cigarettes and sheesha have also gained popularity. They contain harmful chemicals and toxins that create serious health problems.

Educating people regarding the hazards of smoking should be a public health priority. Attempts must be made to decrease the use of tobacco among youngsters. Parents should create a healthy environment at home, spend time with their children, listen to their problems and involve them in meaningful activities. If they are found smoking, the parents must guide and help them quit it.

Smoking in any form is dangerous to health, may it be cigarettes, e-cigarettes, hookah, sheeshah or even passive smoking. We should take a stand before this deadly habit consumes more precious lives.

Dr Abid Ali Jamali
Karachi

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2021

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