MULTAN  -   Speakers at a seminar warned the number of kids starting smoking was highly alarming as at least 14 children became smokers in Pakistan every day.

The seminar Smoke-free Hospitals and Schools was jointly organized by the Pakistan Paediatric Pulmonary Group and American Academy of Paediatrics and Pakistan Paediatric Association.

Speaking on the occasion, Punjab health Adviser Hanif Khan Pitafi said that the government would take steps to ensure that our schools and hospitals were no smoke areas. He added that the points raised by the participants of the seminar were alarming and the recommendations made at the seminar would be considered seriously.

Speaking on this occasion, Vice Chancellor Nishtar Medical University Prof Dr Mustafa Kamal Pasha said that every individual has to play his role to make Pakistan a safe space for future generations. He added that the motive behind engaging the administration of medical institutions in such campaigns was to engage them in awareness creation process. “Since medical practitioners are the experts in human health field, they can easily influence young minds and convince them to give up this injurious to human health practice,” he noted. He suggested that the administration of hospitals and schools should use authority to prevent students from adopting habits like smoking.

Addressing the seminary, Prof Dr Mukhtar Bhatti, Dean of Children Complex Hospital, stressed the need for creation of awareness among youth on hazardous impacts of smoking. He stressed that smoking caused hundreds of deaths every year and the only way to stop this disaster is to make the youth aware of the dangers of smoking.

Convener Paediatric Pulmonary Group Dr Ghulam Mustafa revealed that cigarette contained more than 4000 harmful chemicals. “These chemicals are highly injurious to human health and pose serious threat to human life,” he added.

Prof Dr Sultan Mustafa told the participants of the seminar that two out of every five smokers started smoking before the age of 10. “It’s alarming. The society needs to take up this issue very seriously and address it on urgent basis,” he asserted.

Principal of Rahim Yar Khan Medical College Dr Zafar Tanveer said that timely action on part of college administration could prevent a large number of young students from adopting smoking habit. General Secretary of Pakistan Paediatrics Association Dr Mumtaz Lakhani said that about 28 per cent children used to die due to the impacts of exposure to secondhand smoke.

President of Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Multan Dr Masoodur Rauf Haraj said that secondhand smoking caused serious respiratory infections in children which led to the death of about 165,000 children under the age of five. He disclosed that about 700 million kids across the world were exposed to polluted environment caused by smoking. He said that the aforementioned reasons made it utmost important to make schools, college and hospitals smoke free for the children.

Executive director of Multan Institute of Cardiology Prof Dr Rana Altaf said that almost 160,000 deaths occurred every year due to tobacco. Prof Dr Imran Iqbal said that 10.7 per cent tobacco is used by children of age 13-15 which was a serious threat to the future of Pakistan. Dr Shafiq Patafi said that about 21 percent students smoke at their homes.