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July 16, 2020

Government urged to ban sale of e-cigarettes

National

July 16, 2020

Islamabad: Use of Electronic cigarettes, commonly known as e-cigarettes and vaping devices, are on the rise among the youth of Pakistan, which leads to a new epidemic of tobacco addiction.

This was stated by Azhar Saleem, CEO, Human Development Foundation (HDF), in online media session. He said e-cigarettes are promoted as a safe alternative option compared to traditional cigarette for quitting smoking.

However, the irony is that instead of being an aid for quitting smoking, it has resulted in shifting from one vice to another that too on a higher scale. There are more than 7,000 different flavors introduced in e-cigarettes.

Flavors like cherry, apple, mango, candy gums and many more are apparently more appealing to youth than to traditional cigarette users.

Researches from USA state that 20 per cent of the youth, is addicted to e-cigarettes due to the different flavors used. It has been found that e-cigarettes cause an equal damage as compared with traditional cigarette.

Currently, e-cigarette use in the USA is declared as the new epidemic in tobacco consumption. Extensive researches are being carried out to determine the negative health effects of e-cigarettes. So far, it has been found that e-cigarettes cause greater damage to the lungs and respiratory system of user.

In Pakistan’s scenario, the Federal Board of Revenues (FBR) has recently imposed a 25 per cent tax on imports of e-cigarettes. This step provides legality to the production and import of these products.

As the FBR may see it as a new avenue for revenue generation, the health-related consequences of using e-cigarettes are completely ignored by FBR. It is similar to giving a license to merchants of death for hooking our youth to this deadly addiction.

Azhar stated that FBR and government need to keep the public health concerns into consideration in this matter as we still have a chance to control the use of e-cigarette. Other countries, like India and some states in USA, have completely banned the sale of e-cigarettes.

He urged the government and FBR to take positive and strict steps for tobacco control in Pakistan before the time runs out and we are faced with a new epidemic. He said that this epidemic would add extra burden on the existing infrastructure of public health in Pakistan that is already inadequate.