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Civil society activists urge access to smoking cessation facilities

By Our Correspondent
May 24, 2024
This representational image shows a man smoking. — AFP/File
This representational image shows a man smoking. — AFP/File

KHAR: Representatives of the Alternative Research Initiative (ARI), a non-government organisation, said here on Thursday that access to smoking cessation facilities and services should be recognised as a fundamental human right.

Speaking to journalists, ARI representatives Dr Alamgir Khan, also secretary of Khaluzo Welfare Committee, and Habibullah Qasmi said that a healthy life is the right of every individual, including smokers, and providing them with the means to quit smoking is essential to protecting this right.

They further explained that there are currently 31 million people in Pakistan who use tobacco in various forms, out of which 17 million are cigarette smokers. They said that without providing assistance to these smokers to quit, Pakistan would never achieve the goal of becoming a tobacco-free country, as stipulated by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030.

The government of Pakistan supports a smoking cessation helpline (03365655654), but its promotion has not been as extensive as it should be. From January 1, 2015, to September 1, 2020, only 2,371 smokers registered through this helpline, and of these, only 73 managed to successfully quit smoking, they claimed.

Dr Alamgir and Habibullah further said that every individual has the right to life, health, and a healthy environment, which should form the foundation of tobacco control and smoking cessation efforts. They called for the necessary actions to advance efforts to eliminate smoking, particularly on the occasion of this year’s World No Tobacco Day.