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November 22, 2019

Drive launched against smokeless tobacco


November 22, 2019

Islamabad :Parliamentary Secretary to Ministry of National Health Services and Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC) Dr. Nousheen Hamid launched a campaign against smokeless tobacco at a local hotel on Thursday.

She said the government fully understands the hazards of use of tobacco and its product including smokeless tobacco and we are committed to do every effort to curb the menace of tobacco use in Pakistan.

Dr. Naushen Hamid, further said that under existing tobacco control laws of Pakistan, the use of all forms of tobacco is already banned in public places and public transport. There is a great need to change the perception and behaviour of public about the use of smokeless tobacco.

She believed that the launch of this informative video on smokeless tobacco is a great effort by ASTRA. It is expected that the video would be disseminated with the support of all partners and the Government to all concerned and it would create a strong message to quit all forms of tobacco including smokeless tobacco.

Dr. Ziauddin Islam, Technical Head Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of NHSRC presented details about the prevalence of smokeless tobacco. He said globally there are 300 million users of smokeless tobacco and out of these 89% based in low and middle-income countries including South East Asian countries- Pakistan. He informed that in Pakistan 9.6 million adults at or above the age of 15 years are using smokeless tobacco.

He further said that use of smokeless tobacco is leading to different types of cancers, which include oral cancer, pharyngeal cancer and other cardiac effect. He hoped that with the support of this video on smokeless tobacco use, we would be successful in the dissemination of hazards of smokeless tobacco use in the country and deterrence and quitting of smokeless tobacco in the country.

Malik Imran Ahmedcountry head campaign for tobacco-free kids said that smokeless tobacco (SLT) remained out of government attention ever since. The consumption of SLT is a primary reason for preventable death worldwide.

According to statistics of the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 90% of SLT users reside within South and South East Asia and use of SLT in this region had acquired the form of an epidemic. ASTRA initiative will provide this government an opportunity to realize the gravity of the situation regarding health cost due to SLT, and will emphasize the urgency for taking measures to reduce its consumption in the country.

Professor Siddiqi from the University of York said that ASTRA offers a unique opportunity to bring world-leading scientists to work together and reduce harms caused by smokeless tobacco. Pakistan being a high-burden country for both smoking and smokeless tobacco is a top priority. This collaboration will use the best science to advise policymakers in ways to control smokeless tobacco.

This event was attended by experts from the health and education sectors, representatives from WHO and civil society working on tobacco control. In this event, a video on the harms caused by smokeless tobacco use was launched. The video was produced by ASTRA (Addressing Smokeless tobacco use and building Research capacity in South Asia) partners in Pakistan.

The ASTRA is an international research group working to reduce harms caused by smokeless tobacco use. ASTRA is a collaboration between the University of York, UK, Aga Khan University, Karachi and Khyber Medical University, Peshawar.

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