ISLAMABAD: Researcher and Policy Adviser Dr Mohammad Rizwan Junaid has said traditional measures for tobacco control had hit a plateau, which was why the right time had arrived to switch to far more effective and globally-accepted tobacco harm reduction strategies if we wished to save more than 1.2 million lives in Pakistan.

The spectrum of tobacco harm reduction products reduces toxic exposures by 80pc and cuts down tobacco-related causes of premature death by 70pc, he added.

He was speaking at a roundtable discussion titled ‘Break Thru Science’ organised byInstitute for Research, Advocacy and Development (Irada), says a press release.

Referring to a research study launched in London, titled Integrating Harm Reduction into Tobacco Control Pakistan, South Africa, Bangladesh and Kazakhstan, Dr Rizwan said this report aimed at providing the policymakers and public health experts with estimates of the potential benefit of tobacco harm reduction.

Key findings of the study indicate that significant lives can be saved in countries like Pakistan, South Africa, Bangladesh and Kazakhstan through widespread adoption of tobacco harm reduction strategies and related measures regarding tobacco control policies.

By adopting tobacco harm reduction strategies, Kazakhstan could prevent 165,000 premature deaths in the next four decades, while South Africa, Bangladesh and Pakistan could save 320,000, 920,000, and 1,200,000 lives, respectively.

In Pakistan, the government already possesses the tools for transformation; it only needs to recognise that tobacco harm reduction products which have already been used by 112 million people worldwide, are truly instrumental in resolving this crisis of national loss, Dr Rizwan said.

During the discussion, health experts said various European countries had seen a remarkable decrease in smoking figures due to successful implementation of tobacco harm reduction strategies. The EU has declared the goal of making its countries smoke-free till 2040.

According to international health experts, EU countries’ major focus is adopting tobacco harm reduction which is proactively used to drive down smoking rates and significantly reduce smoking-related mortality and morbidity.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2023

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