Monday July 22, 2024

Regulations needed to control spread of novel tobacco products

By Muhammad Qasim
September 02, 2023

Islamabad:The hazards of novel tobacco products are much worse than perceived by the young generation and there should be strict regulations to control its spread.

This was expressed by senior government officials and ex parliamentarians while speaking at a two-day training workshop conducted by Sustainable Social Development Organisation (SSDO), in collaboration with Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids here in a local hotel in Murree.

The training workshop on hazards of novel tobacco products was attended by government officials, former parliamentarians and journalists from the federal capital, Punjab and Sindh provinces.

In his opening remarks, the Executive Director SSDO Syed Kausar Abbas said the objective of the workshop is not only to create awareness but also engage members of the parliament, media, civil societies as legislation is important to control the wide and uncontrolled spread of nicotine tobacco products - which has far reaching consequences for our youth on which the future of the societies rest.

He said all the stakeholders are expected to provide their unique insights into the issue. Collectively, this diverse input can help create a more holistic understanding of the issue. Also, the people need to be educated on this evolving industry specially - the parents and the teachers. He emphasized that endorsement from the celebrities about nicotine pouches and other nicotine products must be discouraged. The outlets where these products are sold must be scrutinized. He stressed that for nation building we all need to work collectively.

Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Representative of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) said that the market share of the novel products is staggering 32 billion dollars, large enough to peddle influence. He said that the chemicals that are used to make these products are lurking in the shadow on purpose, simply to evade any scrutiny. He disproved the myth that the novel nicotine products are less harmful and said that along with nicotine, the chemicals like glycerides and others are extremely detrimental to health. He said that the collective partnership is the need of the hour and people who have influence and hold social clouts can play an important role in spreading the word. The line between regulation and banning is a blur that needs better understanding to reach a fruitful result, he said.

Senior consultant and health expert Dr. Ziauddin Islam gave a detailed overview of health hazards of novel tobacco products and said the novel product market is seeing a great horizon of opportunity and the health cost that any consumers have to pay; is ever-increasing. He said that their targeted and desired consumers are the youth and are ill-informed. It is also alarming to have observed that the producers term their customers as replacements as annually around 170,000 people die of tobacco related diseases. He said that after increasing tobacco tax, Pakistan is getting around Rs175 billion tax while the health burden on the government is more than Rs650 billion. He also pointed out that the major misconception among the public is the blurred lines between the active and passive smokers. The pollutants that are exhaled out in the open are equally harmful to the health and the social correlatives.