ISLAMABAD PR - Pakistan Alliance for Nicotine and Tobacco Harm Reduction (PANTHR) yesterday called for including smokers and stakeholders working on harm reduction in consultation on tobacco control.

“We support the efforts for tobacco control in Pakistan. We strongly back a smoke-free Pakistan. However, we believe that the scope of the consultation should be wider and inclusive,” said Kashif Farooqi, PANTHR’s Manager Advocacy.

PANTHR is an initiative aimed at promoting alternative solutions for smoking cessation, including the harm reduction products (HRPs).

Farooqi said that in the tobacco control efforts in Pakistan, no members from the smokers’ community and those working on harm reduction are being engaged. He further said that smokers’ views have always been ignored in Pakistan. “As the main beneficiaries, smokers’ voice should be heard loud and clear.”

He added that smoking cessation remains a missing link in Pakistan’s tobacco control efforts. “The successful quitting rate in Pakistan is less than 3%. If we really want to make Pakistan tobacco free, we have to concentrate on cessation.”

Farooqi said the tobacco control emphasis should shift from prevention to cessation. “Further, there is a need for separating harm reduction from the tobacco industry.”

He said that PANTHR is an all-inclusive alliance of organizations and individuals who are committed to a tobacco free Pakistan. “In UK, Japan, Sweden and New Zealand, harm reduction and safer nicotine delivery systems have helped in significantly reducing rates. It is time we in Pakistan also give harm reduction in the fight against tobacco epidemic.”