Health experts warn against tobacco industry’s marketing gimmicks
ISLAMABAD – Health experts have shown concerns over the deceptively dangerous marketing tactics of tobacco industry to attract the youth.
In a press release issued here on Tuesday by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), the experts warned that tobacco was the health hazard that leads to death and a global “talent hunt” competition organized by the world’s biggest tobacco company would further spread diseases caused by consumption of tobacco products.
Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) stated that tobacco companies couldn’t be considered the same as other multinational corporations, as their primary goal was to make profit from the deadly tobacco products. These products cause 8 million deaths around the world and 170,000 deaths in Pakistan each year, he added. Taking advantage of weak tobacco control policies, Malik Imran said these companies organize campaigns which were merely publicity stunts meant to bolster their public image, disguise their deadly profit-motive, and recruit young people to help spread death and disease.
Tobacco products cause 8 million deaths around the world and 170,000 deaths in Pakistan each year, they say
The vast proportion of damage caused by tobacco occurs in low and middle-income countries like Pakistan who were being targeted in this year’s competition, he warned.
Khalil Ahmed Dogar, Program Manager SPARC, stated that the devastating harm to societies and families created by tobacco-related death and disease far outweighs any prize money tobacco companies could provide. Due to cheap and easy affordability, around 1,200 Pakistani children between the ages of 6-15 years start smoking every day. He shared that during “Battle for Health” campaign, young people, had been sensitized to not participate in tobacco industry’s campaigns. If they do, they would be helping the company market tobacco products.
Khalil also urged the public health officials and policymakers to use their social media channels to highlight the harms caused by tobacco products. CEO Chromatic Trust Shariq Mahmood Khan stressed that weaker tobacco control policies in Pakistan had allowed the companies to prey on public’s health.
Tobacco companies have used deceptive tactics, he said, to interfere with public health policies and sold deadly products online and to children near educational institutions. Shariq Khan stated that government needs to tighten the tobacco control laws and invest in education and employment programmes so that the youth won’t be attracted to such deceptive campaigns.