World No Tobacco Day: Youth needs counseling

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By Dr. Abdul Razzak Shaikh,

World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is observed around the world every year on 31st May. It is intended to encourage a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption around the globe. The day is further intended to draw attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and to negative health effects, which currently lead to more than 7 million deaths each year worldwide, including 890,000 of which are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. The member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) created World No Tobacco Day in 1987.

The focus of World No Tobacco Day 2019 is on “tobacco and lung health.” The campaign will increase awareness on, the negative impact that tobacco has on people’s lung health, from cancer to chronic respiratory disease, the fundamental role lungs play for the health and well-being of all people. The campaign also serves as a call to action, advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption and engaging stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for tobacco control.

Present and future generations must be urgently protected from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.
Governments use the tobacco control measures in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke. By implementing these measures, governments reduce the heavy burden of disease and death that is attributable to tobacco use or exposure.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) requires its Parties to regularly collect national data on the magnitude, patterns, determinants, and consequences of tobacco use and exposure.

Through surveillance and monitoring of tobacco, the WHO Tobacco Free Initiative seeks to improve the availability of surveillance data on tobacco use, exposure and related health outcomes.

Groups around the world, from local clubs to city councils to national governments are encouraged by the WHO to organize events each year to help communities celebrate World No Tobacco Day in their own way at the local level. Past events have included letter writing campaigns to government officials and local newspapers, marches, public debates, local and national publicity campaigns, anti-tobacco activist meetings, educational programming, and public art. In addition, many governments use WNTD as the start date for implementing new smoking bans and tobacco control efforts.

Tobacco smoking in Pakistan is legal, but under certain circumstances is banned. If calculated on per day basis, 177 million cigarettes per day were consumed. According to the Pakistan Demographic Health Survey, 46 percent of men and 5.7 percent of women smoke tobacco.

The minimum price of cigarettes available in the market is Rs 50 per pack of 20 cigarettes or Rs2.5 per cigarette. Costly imported cigarettes are also available in the market which can go up to Rs 200 plus per pack. The main 3 companies took a major part in the tobacco industry. There are a number of smuggled cigarettes which find their way from Afghanistan whose landing port is in Karachi, Pakistan.

Lung Cancer in Pakistan is caused directly by tobacco in 90% of cases. It claims the lives of 100,000 people every year.

According to the study conducted by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on national treasury versus public health 2018-19, it was learned that there are above 23.9 million tobacco users in the country, out of which 125000 are dying every year because of tobacco-induced diseases and tobacco usage is still increasing day by day. A High amount of youth in Karachi is addicted to tobacco smoking. It has become a fashion for students to smoke Hookah in Hookah Lounges.

Pakistan is a high-burden tobacco use country implementing several of the best buy (MPOWER) measures to reduce tobacco use, with two measures at the highest level of achievement.

MPOWER is a policy package intended to assist in the country-level implementation of effective interventions to reduce the demand for tobacco, as ratified by the World Health organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The six evidence-based components of MPOWER are Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies, Protect people from tobacco smoke, Offer help to quit tobacco use, Warn about the dangers of tobacco, Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and Raise taxes on tobacco (MPOWER).

Since its launch in New York City by WHO on February 7, 2008, MPOWER has become the internationally applicable and now widely recognized summary of the essential elements of the tobacco control strategy.

Tobacco Control Cell, since its inception, is implementing demand and supply reduction strategies to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use in Pakistan.

Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smoker’s Health Ordinance, 2002. Ban on smoking in places of public work or use, Ban on smoking in public service vehicles.

Mandatory display of “No Smoking” signs at public places.

Cigarette (Printing of Warning) Ordinance, 1979, Amendment in 2002,

Ban on possessing, selling or offering for sale packets of cigarettes without a health warning, Ban on sale of cigarettes in loose form.

Ban on import of Sheesha (tobacco and non-tobacco) and related substances.

Ban on tobacco advertisements in Print, Electronic and Outdoor Media (through billboard a poster or banner affixed outside a shop, kiosk, or mobile trolley, etc. Many other measures were taken time to time but the issue of proper implementation still remains. The educated group realized and reduced to use of tobacco in Pakistan.