Japan, which was once considered a smoker’s paradise and ranked among the least protected countries because of tobacco usage, is now on track to become smoke-free. The country has seen a sharp decline in smoking prevalence over the years. It makes one wonder how it has brought about such a drastic yet delightful change.

The Japanese government adopted innovative tobacco control strategies, introduced reduced-risk products and increased consumer awareness to encourage people to stop smoking traditional cigarettes in favour of some less-harmful options.

While the sale of cigarettes was already declining in Japan after 2011, it picked up pace manifold from 2016 onwards which was also the time when heated tobacco products were introduced.

These devices that heat tobacco to generate a nicotine aerosol for inhalation, instead of burning it, have been scientifically proven to have a lower risk profile compared to the conventional combustible cigarettes.

While cigarettes are available in Japanese market at low prices even today, smokers tend to opt for products that have reduced risks.

This change can happen in Pakistan too if the government increases awareness and introduces alternatives for smokers, keeping their wellbeing at the heart of its efforts.

Taseer Ali
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2021

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