Islamabad : Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO), in collaboration with Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids held an awareness walk at the National Press Club with the slogan “Tobacco Free Pakistan”.
The aim was to counter British American Tobacco’s “Battle of the Minds” competition, a challenge aimed at youth with a hefty prize money.
SSDO organised this walk to counter this campaign, which it deemed as a thinly veiled publicity stunt, with aims to promote their tobacco products among youth, despite the fact is extremely damaging to health. The goal was to gather all common citizens on a single platform where they could collectively voice their opinion and let their thoughts be heard by the mainstream media and the general public.
SSDO mobilized and collected citizens from an array of diverse backgrounds such as civil society organizations, journalists, lawyers, and activists.
The most energised of the participants were the youth, who staunchly protested against BAT’s campaign, and pledged to ensure a tobacco free Pakistan. Students expressed that smoking has incredibly dangerous consequences for health, leading to disease and early death. A student stated, “The worst about smoking is that it not only has negative consequences for the smoker, but that second-hand smoke is equally as deadly. That is why want the government to ensure that bans on smoking in public are strictly enforced”.
Speaking at the event, Syed Kausar Abbas, Executive Director SSDO stated, “BAT’s campaign is needs to be firmly tackled. They are trying to manipulate youth into using their products. However, I am ecstatic to see that youth are the ones who are most actively participating in this walk, advocating promoting healthy behaviours.”
Many participants expressed their gratitude to SSDO for organizing such an event where people from all walks of life could gather together to raise their voices against Big Tobacco and allow them a platform to verbalize their thoughts. They also pledged to do their part in ensuring a tobacco free Pakistan, and urged the government to also ensure stricter implementation of laws for compliance.