KARACHI  - In Pakistan, 70 percent of children get exposed to environmental tobacco smoke, globally declared as a class-A carcinogen, that is capable to produce cancer.

Experts talking to APP said tobacco smoke is a major cause of contribution to the indoor air-pollution in the country, where people are generally not aware about the harm caused by passive smoking.

Breathing the smoke from other people’s cigarette is called passive smoking that consists of smoke from the burning end of the cigarette called “side-stream” smoke and smoke exhaled by the smoker “mainstream” smoke.

Civil Hospital Karachi Pediatric Department chairperson Prof, Ayesha Mehnaz, in reply to a question about harmful effects of passive smoking on children said it also increases their risk of catching respiratory infection including pneumonia.

Chronic cough and phlegm, increased risk of asthma, glue ear (chronic middle ear infection), growth retardation and reduction in lung function are also associated health hazards for children, she said.

Dr Shaheena Qayyum, Ojha Institute of Chest Diseases referring to available statistics said 1500 children between six to 16 years also take up smoking every day in Pakistan. These were cited to be kids who are active smokers and are among the 32 percent male population and six percent female population who actually smoke.

“Lung cancer is the number one cancer among male in Pakistan and over 90 percent of lung cancers occurs in smokers,” said the senior chest specialist.

Meanwhile cancer of the mouth, throat, lungs and oesophagus (food pipe) occur ten times more in smokers. Tobacco smoke has also proven to increase the risk of developing bladder, pancreatic, cervical and breast cancer. The experts registered their serious concern that huge amount of money was being spent by tobacco companies in their promotional activities compared to meagre amount spent on public health education.

It was regretted that the tobacco industry is trying to link smoking to pleasure, relaxation, enjoyment and adventure - with children and teenager as their main targets.

This was again in a scenario where 54 percent population of the country was consuming tobacco in form of paan, naswar, gutka, mainpuri and so-forth.