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‘Tobacco companies targeting countries like Pakistan by glamorising cigarettes’

By Our Correspondent
September 07, 2018

Owing to ineffective or lack of laws, multinational tobacco companies are now targeting people in developing countries, including Pakistan, by glamourising cigarettes and coming up with new but deadly products like ‘heating tobacco devices and E-cigarettes’ as people in these countries are still not aware of the actual dangers of tobacco and nicotine, say experts.

“Multinational tobacco companies believe that their future lies in third world countries, including Pakistan and they are taking advantage of ignorance of people as well as weak laws to keep people addicted to nicotine for the rest of their lives,” eminent pulmonologist and anti-tobacco campaigner Prof Nadeem Rizvi said while delivering a talk at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) the other day.

A large number of doctors, including Executive Director JPMC Dr Seemin Jamali, Dean JPMC Prof Iqbal Afridi, paramedics, students and nurses as well as senior management of the JPMC attended the talk at the Najmuddin Auditorium, and many of them vowed to quit smoking by seeking professional help.

Prof Nadeem Rizvi, who was the former head of Pulmology Department at the JPMC, deplored that in 2004 more than 32 per cent of young male doctors of the JPMC were smokers and further deplored that 95 per cent of these doctors used to smoke at their workplace, which meant that they used to smoke at the hospital premises.

“The prevalence of smoking in the general public was 29 percent while among doctors, it was 32 percent which was cause of serious concern as they were influencing their patients and instead of helping them, adding to their problems”, Prof. Rizvi said and added that with the decrease in the number of male doctors as compared to female doctor at JPMC these days, this ratio has dropped.

Citing national and international studies and statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), Prof. Rizvi said smoking was the major cause of premature deaths in Pakistan as it was the major cause of cardiovascular diseases and cancers among Pakistani people.

“Smoking is the major cause of coronary heart disease and other heart ailments, which are the most life-taking ailments in Pakistan while it is a cause of 40 per cent of all the cancers in the country,” he said and added that 25 other major diseases were also being caused by smoking and use of tobacco.

To a query, Prof Rizvi said smoking one of two cigarettes was as harmful as smoking a full pack of cigarettes, and urged smokers to get rid of this habit completely to prevent themselves from the hazards of smoking. He also asked them to seek professional advice from psychiatrists to overcome the addiction of nicotine.

‘E-cigarettes also deadly’

Prof Rizvi claimed that new technologies for ‘heating tobacco’ and E-cigarettes were as deadly as common cigarettes as they make users addicted to nicotine which was more addictive than any other drug, including cocaine, opium, heroin and marijuana. He urged the people to refrain from getting into the traps of tobacco companies.

Executive Director JPMC Dr Seemin Jamali thanked Prof Rizvi for coming to the hospital for delivering the important talk and praised him for his services for the JPMC as well as for the thousands of patients who were healed directly or indirectly through his department at the hospital.

She said tobacco use was a curse for this society and vowed to continue awareness activities at the JPMC to let people and health officials become aware of the hazards of tobacco and its products.