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June 1, 2019

Call to implement laws to check rapid spread of smoking addiction

Karachi

June 1, 2019

A dire shortage of machinery to implement relevant laws is the main cause of the rapid spread of the smoking addiction among the youth.

This was stated by Dr Nayyar Abdur Rehman of the Karachi Psychiatric Hospital while addressing a press conference on the occasion of the WHO-designated No Tobacco Day at the Karachi Press Club on Friday afternoon.

The consumption of tobacco and allied products like gutka and sheesha are all very harmful to human health and well-being. With the help of statistics, Dr Rehman said 1.2 billion people across the globe were slave to this habit and wasted away the equivalent of Rs50 billion on this harmful pastime.

He said that around 100,000 people were falling victim to the causes of smoking, including death. He said smoking “sheesha” for an hour was just like smoking a hundred cigarettes successively.

He said there was a law that stipulated that there could be no cigarette selling shop or cabin within 500 yards of a school or college campus, yet there was a profusion of them, exposing young people to the temptation. “Sheesha” sellers, in particular, he said, were targeting young boys and girls.

Dr Akhtar Farid Siddiqui of the same hospital said that smoking affected every organ most profusely. He said that these tobacco-related products, including cigarette smoking, were responsible for diseases like lung cancer, tuberculosis, heart attacks and high blood pressure.

Dr Salahuddin Siddiqui of the same hospital said society at large had a major role to play to increase awareness of the lethal effects of smoking and other kinds of addiction to tobacco-related products. All three speakers agreed that a major step forward would be to curtail demand for these products which, in turn, would stall supply.

Dr Rehman remarked that unfortunately, the smoking habit was gaining momentum among women in both the rural areas and the urban elite. He said that smoking among pregnant women caused serious complications which did affect not only them but their foetuses too.

Dr Rehman said the massive amount that cumulatively was wasted away in smoking could be much better utilised by spending on social welfare to alleviate the sufferings of the less privileged and eliminating other scars from society. He said there were some drugs that could help one kick this habit. Two of the drugs he named were Nortyptiline and Bupropion. He said that these drugs were available at their hospital.

To a question as to why the government allowed or encouraged for multinationals producing tobacco-related products, Dr Farid Siddiqui said that it was a way to generate revenues for the state as the multinationals were very good taxpayers and did not indulge in concealment or evasion. However, he said that checks should be imposed on them to control the menace.