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Sunday May 28, 2023

Pindiites getting exposed to second-hand smoke

February 19, 2023

‘Smoking is injurious to health’ is a warning for potential smokers seen on every cigarette pack, but the warning is not working as a preventive measure to them. Non-smoking Pindiites are getting exposed to second-hand smoke more or less daily.

“Second-hand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, 70 of which can cause cancer. Children are particularly vulnerable to the harms caused by this smoke, as their lungs are still developing and they breathe at a faster rate than adults,” says Mohsin Raza, a health consultant.“Children exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk of developing chest and ear infections. And, for children with asthma, it can increase the frequency and severity of asthma attacks,” adds Mohsin.

“Every day I visit a grocery store in my locality. The owner of the store sells cigarettes too and also keeps a lighter at the counter for the smokers to light a cigarette making the non-smoking customers breathe in other people’s tobacco smoke. It is highly disturbing,” says Taqi Abidi from Fazal Town.“The government should recognise the harms associated with second-hand smoke and introduce smoking bans in public places, but it cannot be done without widespread public support,” says Ali Asghar.

“In Pakistan, it is estimated that the prevalence of tobacco smoking is 36% for males and 9% for females. Among young adults especially university students in Pakistan, the prevalence of smoking is 15% with the majority being male smokers,” says Sabir Hussain, a social worker.

“A young person’s decision to smoke is directly influenced by peers’ smoking behaviour In terms of smoking initiation, non-smokers whose friends smoke are significantly more likely to begin smoking compared to non-smokers whose friends do not smoke,” says Samar Jafri, a smoker.

Asif Raza, a college professor says: “The authorities clearly need to do more, including properly enforcing the laws on smoking in public places. Public awareness campaigns are needed to boost understanding of the harms of second-hand smoke exposure. And nongovernmental organizations should support a grassroots movement to change smoking norms.” “Smoking represents a huge impact not only in terms of economic costs but it is slowly depriving the country of a healthy workforce and increasing the burden of disease in the already overburdened health sector,” adds Sabir.

“Unfortunately, social norms around smoking are not showing a positive trend in the city. Smoking is quite visible in public places. Smoking on public transport and in the workplace is still commonplace, and there is no restriction on smoking in the home as well. A large number of children live with smoking adults,” says Khawar Abbas, a school teacher. “Most children and non-smoking adults are living in smoke-free environments. When they get exposed to second-hand smoke, chest infections, and heart diseases become their fate,” says Seerat Hasan, a medical doctor.