Concerns showed on bids to dent anti-smoking drive

ISLAMABAD   -   Stakeholders and public health activists in Paki­stan have expressed serious con­cerns over persistent attempts of certain quarters to derail tobacco control efforts in the country and said that the anti-smoking campaign is aimed at only reducing the health cost as well as improving the gov­ernment’s tax collection volume.

According to activists, these quarters’ misleading campaigns aim to distract the public, espe­cially youth, policymakers, media, and the government from its ulteri­or motive - profit at the expense of public health.

The health experts said that the propaganda was only aimed to serve to conceal the harms caused to the people in terms of health diseases by consuming tobacco products.

They mentioned that these at­tempts include attempts to block or weaken tobacco control measures such as taxes on cigarettes, smoke-free laws, sales to minors, and pro­motional and advertising restric­tions.

These attempts are driven by their economic interests in main­taining and expanding tobacco sales, despite the well-established health risks associated with to­bacco use, the health experts re­marked. However, the stakehold­ers pledged that public health advocates, researchers, and poli­cymakers continue to work for the anti-smoking initiatives and imple­ment evidence-based strategies to reduce tobacco use and its impact on public health.

Tobacco control remains a critical issue in Pakistan, with smoking-re­lated illnesses imposing a significant burden on healthcare systems and contributing to preventable deaths. Despite being a signatory to the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the number of smokers in Pakistan has reached over 31 million.

In response to these alarming de­velopments, activists have urged the government to ensure implementa­tion of all anti-smoking regulations in the country in order to protect the health and well-being of all citizens.

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