Empowering marginalised communities in Pakistan: A path to tobacco harm reduction

“Smoking-related issues have burdened me during my ten years of smoking. However, since I switched to oral nicotine pouches, my life has transformed significantly. I now notice small yet meaningful improvements in my life. Access to information about available alternatives in the market is crucial for individuals seeking a better lifestyle,” Ahmed, a former smoker from Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) offers a promising solution to mitigate theadverse effects of smoking in marginalized communities. To design effective THR awareness campaigns, it is crucial to understand the barriers faced by such communities in Pakistan, which include financial constraints, limited access to healthcare, lack of education, language barriersand cultural stigmas.Visual aids, such as infographics and videos, can effectively communicate the reduced risk and usage of THR products while ensuring that these materials are in Urdu and regional languages like Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, and Balochican further enhance their reach and effectiveness.

Moreover, local health professionals canplay a crucial role in the successful implementation of THR initiatives. Collaborative efforts can include training local health workers and community leaders to advocate for and educate about THR products. Workshops and community meetings can serve as platforms to inform smokers while practical advice on how to use these products, where to buy them, and what to expect can encourage more people to make the switch.

In summary, by promoting THR through culturally relevant communication, engaging local health professionals, organizing community-based efforts, collaborating with NGOs and elected representatives,can empower individuals to make informed choices. Through these collective efforts, we can reduce the harm caused by smoking and improve the well-being of marginalized communities in Pakistan.

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