ISLAMABAD: The Association for Smoking Alternatives Pakistan (ASAP) has launched a campaign to convince one million Pakistanis to quit smoking.

Expressing grave concern over the increasing number of smokers in the country, a nation-wide drive has been launched to educate Pakistanis on the need to quit cigarettes.

“Almost all smokers today understand the risks associated with cigarettes but continue to use them until they fall prey to cardiovascular diseases, cancer or other diseases associated with cigarette use. It is the role of organisations and regulatory authorities to make people quit cigarettes, right now,” Abeer Mirza, founder and CEO of ASAP, told media on Monday.

Inspired by the UK government’s long running ‘Stoptober Campaign’ that focused on making smokers in the United Kingdom quit smoking during the month of October, the ASAP aims to replicate the learning and results of the campaign in Pakistan for the benefit of public health.

Mr Mirza said the campaign planned to use digital platforms to provide counselling and support to smokers that could help remove cigarettes from the lives of one million smokers.

He said a number of steps were taken by the government, however, cigarette use statistics over the past decade showed that the desired results had not been achieved.

The ASAP founder said fresh data revealed that despite a reduction in global smoking rates, the absolute number of smokers was still beyond one billion, with over 80 per cent found in low and middle income countries, owing to greater public health costs.

“In a country with over 15.6 million cigarette smokers, Pakistan is in dire need of innovative solutions to help curb the public health impact of cigarettes,” he said, adding that the campaign aims to create awareness of better solutions that had been successful in other countries like UK, Europe and Japan.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2021

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