Tobacco Hazards

Published on – May 8, 2020 – 3:30 am

The Covid-19 has perhaps dimmed the importance of World Asthma Day that is observed on the first Tuesday of May every year to sensitise people regarding the lethality of the disease and the factors that become its immediate cause. Pakistan Chest Society Balochistan chapter would organise seminars, workshops and interactive sessions each year in this regard which were not possible owing to the necessity of maintaining social distances. However, the sensitisatino campaigns could at least be pitched through the virtual space—the social media platforms, video link conferences and webinars.

Increasing asthma awareness among the people is essential. Smoking habits prove to be catalyst for the disease to attack and become a silent killer. Therefore, the civil society and every sane mind has to play a role to dissuade people from smoking habits. It may be mentioned here that Pakistan is a signatory to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control since 2005. But very unfortunately the smoking habits in the country go unabated without a proper check by the authorities concerned, leading to hundreds of thousands of yearly deaths as a result of pulmonary ailments. A study conducted by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on ‘National Treasury Versus Public Health 2018-19’ says that there are around 23.9 million tobacco users in the country. The lethality of the toxic substance is also on a high scale. Of this population mentioned, 125000 persons perish every year because of tobacco induced diseases. That must send alarm bells to the corridors of health policy makers to taking appropriate measures to control use of tobacco products and smoking habits. The same report also tells us that mouth and lung cancers are highly prevalent in Pakistan compared to other forms of cancers and both these types of cancers are linked to prevalent use of tobacco products in the country which are highly carcinogenic.

Pakistan is a country where legislation is done on all the issues save implementation. The tobacco prevention laws prohibit smoking in public places, its advertisement, promotion and sponsorship. It also makes it incumbent upon tobacco related industries to maintain pictorial warning on tobacco packing and labeling. However, these laws are blown with the puff of smokes every single day in all small and big townships of Pakistan with impunity. People even don’t avoid smoking in the restaurants, public transport even in hospitals.

Unfortunate as it is, the implementation of laws is also blown in the air in Balochistan. Hospitals, schools, public offices, universities, public transport facilities, public toilets, bazaars, restaurants, eateries, hotels and even the sporting areas are not clean of smoking bugs who invade these places, making it difficult for others to breath easily.

To control the asthma related diseases and smoking habits in the country and particularly in Balochistan, the provincial government should also play a proactive role on the legislation side with strict implementation. It should immediately ban smoking in the educational institutions, restaurants, public spaces, making it a cognizable crime punishable by strict punishment and heavy fines. It must also indulge itself in sensitization campaigns each year to dissuade people from the habit of smoking for laying foundations of an healthy and constructive society.