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‘1,200 children start smoking daily in Pakistan’

National

May 30, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s population consists of 60% youth below the age of 25 while around 1200 children start smoking every day due to affordable prices of cigarettes.

This data has been revealed in a knowledge and fact sharing session on tobacco, organized by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC).

Babar bin Atta, Prime Minister’s focal person for polio eradication and tobacco control, issued a statement mentioning that Pakistan is one of the fifteen countries in the world with heavy burden of tobacco related health issues.

Around 1000 to 1200 Pakistani children between ages of 6-15 years start smoking every day, reported Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) in 2015. It said the healthcare burden of smoking stands at Rs143 billion compared to Rs83 billion revenue generation.

Sajjad Ahmad Cheema, SPARC executive director, said cultural and social habits fascinating minors. Tobacco companies are targeting the markets of minors and women to expand their future markets by expanding business. He said there are laws to control tobacco sales for minors to promote the healthy lifestyles. Reduce smoking results in better health and budgetary profit. He said the companies promoting e-cigarettes are less harmful as compared to traditional smoking.

Colonel (r) Azhar Saleem, CEO of HDF, presented a report titled “Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance, 2002”. He pressed on stopping people from smoking in public, near educational institutes and restriction on sale of cigarettes to under 18 people.

Dr Ziauddin Islam, of Tobacco Control Cell, said the volume of illicit trade is very low as claimed by the tobacco industry and the data presented to the government by the industry is also challengeable.

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