FAISALABAD

Tobacco is responsible for approximately 80,000 deaths annually in Pakistan, disclosed a seminar titled ‘World No Tobacco Day’ held at the University of Faisalabad.Dr Zahid Masood, Head Dept of Community Medicine, in his keynote address in the seminar said, “Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people every year, of which more than 600,000 are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. The number of female smokers in their teens and twenties has increased rapidly, as a study. Prevalence of Shisha smoking among students is 19.7% in Pakistan. There are 30 million tobacco smokers in Pakistan. The number of young female smokers has jumped from 6% to 16.3% in recent years. Smoking Shisha for an hour is equal to smoking 100 cigarettes at the same time.” He said that a comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is required under the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control. “Yet, only 19 countries, representing 6% of the world’s population, have comprehensive national bans. Unless we act, it will kill up to 8 million people by 2030, of which more than 80% will live in low and middle income countries,” he added.He further said that Pakistanis in general consume tobacco worth Rs 450 billion annually and this trend needs to be curbed. In countries like Pakistan, a single cigarette pack is cheaper than a loaf of bread. Consequently smoking got popular among youth due to its easy availability and affordability, he added. Dr Masood said that this is an alarming situation and requires immediate attention from health authorities. Shisha and tobacco should be subjected to the same regulation as cigarettes and other tobacco products. He quoted the example of Australia where for the first time in the world, strict laws on tobacco use and promotion have been imposed since December 01, 2013. Since then, all tobacco products are sold in standardised drab, dark brown packaging with large graphic health warnings. There are no tobacco industry logos, brand imagery, colours or promotional text. Brand and product names are printed in the same small font below hard-hitting warnings depicting the health consequences of smoking.Earlier, Dr Mutayyaba explained the theme of WHO for 2013 which was “Ban Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship”. Dr Shandana and Dr Sehrish spoke on the health hazards of tobacco use which include cancer of lungs and mouth, heart attacks and premature deaths.In his address, Chief Guest Dr Iqbal Tahir focused on imposing taxes on cigarettes. He added that there are strict laws on tobacco smoking in Pakistan. However, because of the lack of political will, such laws have not been implemented. He appreciated the role of media which now discourages any advertisement by cigarette industry. He was of the opinion that parents should carefully watch activities of their children and by counseling they can help their children to avoid tobacco use.