MULTAN-An oncologist warned on Monday about one billion people are likely to die in 21st century because of medical conditions and diseases caused by tobacco use across the globe, asking the world to take necessary action for banning tobacco consumption forthwith.

Talking to The Nation here, Prof Dr Abrar Ahmad Javed pointed out that the tobacco control could break the cycle of poverty, contribute to ending hunger, promote sustainable agriculture and economic growth and combat climate change. “Each year tobacco cultivation uses 4.3 million hactres of land, resulting in two to four percent global deforestation. It requires heavy amounts of pesticides and fertilizers which pollutes water supplies,” he added. He said that tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world and by 2030, it would become the leading one with eight million deaths. He further disclosed that 30 percent of all cancer deaths are caused by tobacco worldwide.

Referring to Pakistan, he said that Pakistan had the highest consumption of tobacco in South Asia and 45 per cent males as well as about 10 per cent females smoked. “In just one year (2014), Pakistanis smokes 64 billion cigarettes costing the economy Rs264 billion,” he added. Citing a report of Euro Monitor 2015, he said that the consumption of chewable tobacco, the most dangerous form of tobacco, also increased in Pakistan.

He pointed out that 45 percent of all cancers in Pakistan are caused by tobacco which included lung, mouth, throat, stomach, kidney, urinary, bladder and others. “The centre for disease control US conducted the analysis of 30 brands of chewable tobacco from Pakistan which disclosed that the samples contained high values of toxicants like cadium and arsenic which increase the cancer risk by 100,000 times.

He demanded the government to impose heavy taxes on tobacco, impose ban on advertisements of cigarettes and ensure implementation of ban on smoking at public places. He urged upon media, health workers and civil society to develop such an environment where smoking is unacceptable to all, protect the rights of non-smokers and the physicians should prescribe tobacco cessation. He declared that the upcoming World No Tobacco day would be celebrated under the slogan of “Tobacco—A Threat to Development” by the Cancer Society of Multan on May 31.