Friday May 24, 2024

Female students clinch top positions in poster competition against tobacco use

By M. Waqar Bhatti
May 31, 2023

Islamabad: Three female students clinch­ed top three awards in a poster competition to highlight the impacts of smoking and use of tobacco on health and benefits of increase in taxation over cigarettes.

The poster competition titled ‘Postcard Competition Season 3’ was organised by an anti-tobacco civil society organisation Chromatic in connection with World No Tobacco Day and over 500 students from entire Pakistan sent their hand-made and digital posters and post-cards for the competition highlighting the hazards of tobacco.

A distinguished panel of experts meticulously reviewed numerous entries and selected three outstanding designs to be honored during the prize distribution ceremony held in Islamabad. Parliamentary Secretary Health in National Assembly Dr Shazia Sobia Somro, commended Chromatic's postcard competitions for their significant role in highlighting the harms of tobacco use and spreading awareness, particularly among the youth.

She stated that the government is committed to taking serious steps to engage the youth in positive activities, although challenges remain. Dr Shazia expressed her determination to play an active role in tobacco control efforts, further underscoring the government's commitment to public health. The ceremony was attended by prominent guests, including Faisal Karim Kundi, SAPM, who graced the occasion as the chief guest. Federal Parliamentary Secretary Health, Dr Shazia Sobia Somro also joined the event, along with journalists, students, and members of civil society.

Speaking on the occasion, Chromatic's CEO Shariq Khan, emphasised the profound impact of the postcard competition on both the youth and policymakers. Shariq Khan called for urgent government intervention to protect the younger generation from the detrimental effects associated with tobacco products. He highlighted the significant consequences of the government's decision to increase the Federal Excise Duty (FED) on cigarettes in February 2023. This move resulted in a substantial boost in FED collection, amounting to Rs11.3 billion, as well as an additional Rs4.4 billion in sales tax during the fiscal year 2022-23.

Dr. Ziauddin Islam, former head, Tobacco Control Cell of Mo NHSRC Pakistan, underscored the alarming statistics of over 170,000 tobacco-related deaths annually and the economic burden of 615 billion rupees, equivalent to 1.6% of Pakistan's GDP. Dr. Ziauddin Islam emphasised the crucial role of implementing taxes to discourage tobacco use and alleviate the burden on healthcare costs.

Amna Hassan Sheikh, member of central executive council stated that tobacco use poses significant health risks, including an increased risk of developing various types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory problems. Additionally, tobacco addiction can have detrimental effects on the overall well-being and quality of life of individuals. It is crucial to implement effective measures such as comprehensive tobacco control policies, public awareness campaigns, and access to cessation programs to protect the youth from the harmful effects of tobacco and promote a tobacco-free generation.

During an interaction with the participants, Mr. Faisal Karim Kundi, the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, acknowledged the remarkable participation of the youth in the postcard competition. He expressed concern over the targeting of young individuals through various techniques to promote tobacco-related products. However, he remained optimistic and expressed hope in overcoming these challenges to create a healthier future. The success of Chromatic's postcard competition season 3 marks a significant milestone in raising awareness about the positive impacts of increased tobacco prices in Pakistan.