On this World No-Tobacco Day, Quit Smoking and Live!
31st May is an important day on the global health front since it is observed as a World No- Tobacco Day. On this occasion this year, World Health Organization (WHO) has come up with a compelling message of ‘Choose Heart, not Tobacco’, to demonstrate the negative impact of tobacco consumption on heart. According to WHO, tobacco is responsible for the death of 7 million people worldwide annually; 890,000 of which have died due to passive smoking. Not only this, the tobacco smokers are more likely to get repeated heart-attacks when compared to non-smokers and are at a higher risk for aortic aneurysms, angina and other cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Although WHO is campaigning against any form of tobacco consumption, its primary attention is directed towards cigarettes, which are the major source of tobacco consumption around the world.
Studies have revealed that in Pakistan cigarettes are popular among the youth, who start smoking at the average age of 16. Many of them soon become chain smokers and are prone to early heart diseases. Reports have revealed instances of heart attack in the early 30s among people who became smokers at a young age. Not only this, tobacco consumption in any form has also been associated with the injury of the blood vessels, which eventually leads to poor blood circulation in the body and in severe cases, stroke. Keeping in view the multiple heath challenges associated with smoking and tobacco consumption, WHO is pushing for a smoke-free world with its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Pakistan is also the signatory of this global framework and must strive towards tobacco control initiatives at the national level.
On this World No-Tobacco Day, the Government of Pakistan must take a vow to engage in substantial measures to counter the growth and distribution of tobacco products in Pakistan. The government has guaranteed to include the graphical warning on the cigarette packs by June 2018 and has decided to increase the size of the textual warnings; however, the warnings on the cigarette packs do not begin to tell the full dangers of tobacco. Consequently, the government must engage in other significant measures like a stricter price and taxation structure to lower the demand and production of cigarettes. The Government of Pakistan must also try to achieve the campaign goals of No-Tobacco day by creating awareness about the health dangers associated with tobacco consumption. The society should join hands with the Government of Pakistan in its struggle to eliminate tobacco consumption. Individuals must set a precedent on this no-tobacco day by taking a pledge to quit smoking and preferring life over cigarettes!
Sidra Idrees and Memoona Tawfiq
Human Development Foundation