LAHORE - Like around the world, the day will be marked across the country today (May 31).

The Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre Saturday organised the annual anti-tobacco poster competition on the eve of World No Tobacco Day.

The SKMCHR got about 6000 entries from major schools of the country. Chief Executive Officer Dr Faisal Sultan distributed shields and certificates among the winners. Dr Sultan stressed the need for stepping up efforts get rid of such serious health hazards.

Speaking at this occasion, Cardiologist Consultant Dr Faizur Rehman said tobacco usage is on the rise in the Pakistani youth which is a very dangerous trend to their health. “Developed world is striving hard to educate its people about the hazards of tobacco use and they have achieved continuous declining ratio and their youth have become less prone to the tobacco use. But developing countries like Pakistan are facing the challenge,” he said.

Dr. Yasir Iftikhar, Consultant Pulmonary and General Internal Medicine, said: “The tobacco epidemic is one of the serious health threats the world has ever faced, killing nearly six million people a year. It is a gradual killer, because there is a lag of several years between when people start using tobacco and when their health suffers. It is a main cause of different type of cancers, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases including coronary heart disease and lung cancer.”

He went on: “Every sort of tobacco like cigarette, pipe, water pipes (Huqa), paan, gutka and inhaling tobacco, are lethal. There are more than 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer. And there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. Major cause of lung cancer is use of tobacco and even female indulge in this habit is more susceptible to breast cancer also.”

Similarly, Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Oncology (Inmol) arranged a seminar. Large number of Doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and patients with their relatives attended the seminar.

Inmol Director Dr Abu Bakar Shahid said that the purpose of this seminar was to inform people about hazards of tobacco use. He told that tobacco use causes many cancers including lungs cancer.

Dr Zafar Alaludin said that tobacco use was a risk factor for many diseases, especially those affecting heart, lungs, and causing several cancers. In 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) named tobacco as the world's single greatest cause of preventable diseases.

He added that about 250 million women smoke around the world compared to 1 billion men. The world smokes 15 billion cigarettes a day. It consumes only 1 billion cans of coke.

He said that about 100,000 deaths in Pakistan are caused annually by smoking alone. About 80-90% smokers die from lung cancer in Pakistan.  Pakistanis burnt their Rs 250 billion to ashes through smoking of over 64 bn cigarettes in the financial year 2014, disclosed a State Bank report recently issued.

The State Bank’s Statistical Bulletin reports that Pakistanis smoked 64.48bn cigarettes in the FY-14. The average price of cigarette is considered Rs4 (conservative estimate) and the total price of 64.48bn cigarettes comes to an estimated Rs258bn.

Over 4000 chemical compounds are created by burning a cigarette – 69 of those chemicals are known to cause cancer.  Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths in men and women.  More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.

Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body: Bladder, Blood (acute myeloid leukemia), Cervix, Colon and rectum (colorectal), Esophagus, Kidney and ureter, Larynx, Liver, Oropharynx (includes parts of the throat, tongue, soft palate, and the tonsils), Pancreas, Stomachm Trachea, bronchus, and lung.

He added Quitting smoking cuts cardiovascular risks. Just 1 year after quitting smoking, risk for a heart attack drops sharply. Within 2 to 5 years after quitting smoking, risk for stroke could fall to about the same as a nonsmoker’s. If a person quit smoking, risks for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder drop by half within 5 years. Ten years after quitting smoking, risk for lung cancer drops by half.

Dr Zafar told that theme for 2015 “Stop Illicit Trade of Tobacco Products” Types of Illicit trade are Contraband: cigarettes smuggled from abroad without domestic duty paid. Pakistan has been ranked as one of top three countries in the Asia Pacific region where illicit trade of cigarettes has been increasing due to multiple reasons, including the Federal Board of Revenue’s preference for manual approach to digital mapping. This is causing roughly Rs.20 billion a year loss to the national exchequer.