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September 24, 2020

Smoking is a major public health issue

Islamabad

September 24, 2020

Last week, while enjoying with my family members at a birthday party, I was made to feel uncomfortable by cigarette smoke from a group of men nearby. I was later delighted to find a corner where there were no smokers. However, my pleasure did not last long. A man standing near me lit up a cigarette, destroying my short-lived pleasure.

“I am not acquainted with the ban,” the man standing beside me responded when asked about the ban. “I like smoking and I need to smoke. Can anyone force me to give up my hobby,” Ali Akbar Rizvi seemed quite angry while saying this.

“Smokers seem to ignore the feeling of disgust their smoke brings to those around them. They even overlook public places such as hospitals — private or the government, railway stations, schools, and public transport, where smoking is banned. They don’t seem to care, nobody bothers,” says Adeem Raza.

Esa Hussain Naqvi, a varsity student, who smokes, says: “I have heard about the ban but I don’t care. I need to smoke. I fell into the habit and I can’t give it up.”

Arbaz Jafri, a non-smoker, says that smokers are found everywhere. They think smoking helps them relax. “I see many parents smoking in the schoolyard while picking up their children. However, no one is ever punished or even warned,” he complains.

“When my friends offer me a cigarette, I reject it. Smoking cigarettes doesn’t make people look cool or fit in at social gatherings. The lack of punishment is the key reason why the number of smokers in public places remains high. Smoke particles can remain in an office or homeroom for days. Particles in rooms where individuals smoked yesterday can cause cancer,” says Noor Abbas.

Hayat Ali says: “The rate of smokers remains high in the workplace, kindergartens and primary schools, and on means of public transport. Some shops which sell cigarettes have a dangling lighter for the smokers”.

“Although TV channels show advertisements focusing on raising public awareness about the harmful impact of cigarette smoking, but nothing has transformed so far. More effective measures need be chalked out to create no-smoking places rather than issuing laws that are never enforced,” says Raheel Haider.

“There are some 4000 known chemicals in tobacco smoke; at least 250 of them are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer. Tobacco smoke in enclosed spaces is inhaled by everyone, exposing smokers and nonsmokers alike to its harmful effects,” says Sabir Hussain, a health official.

“Neither ventilation nor filtration, even in combination, can reduce tobacco smoke exposure indoors to levels that may be considered acceptable. Only 100% smoke-free environments provide effective protection,” adds Sabir.