ISLAMABAD, SEP 08 (DNA) — Health activists are urgently advocating for a ban on emerging tobacco products in Pakistan due to their highly addictive nature. The Society for the Protection of the Rights of Child (SPARC) issued a press release highlighting the critical need for a ban on these harmful tobacco and nicotine products, which are gaining popularity among children and young adults in the country.
Misinformed about the risks associated with these products, children and young people are openly consuming them, under the false assumption that they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. It is important to note that this misinformation is actively propagated by the large tobacco industry in an attempt to expand its consumer base across various age groups.
Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), emphasized that Pakistan currently lacks comprehensive legislation addressing the promotion, sale, and advertisement of e-cigarettes and similar products. He called upon the government to take immediate and decisive action to address this issue.
Emerging tobacco products encompass a wide range, including nicotine pouches, heated tobacco products (HTPs), vapes, and various flavored options, all of which are readily available online and in markets. Ahmed highlighted that these products are deliberately designed to entice youth, making it imperative to ban them before they endanger our nation’s children any further.
Dr. Ziauddin Islam, former Technical Head at the Tobacco Control Cell in the Ministry of Health and focal person for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), presented alarming statistics on tobacco-related deaths in Pakistan. In 2018 alone, an estimated 160,100 lives were lost due to tobacco use, and this number has continued to rise since then.
Dr. Islam underscored that innovative tobacco products have inundated the online market through aggressive advertising, promotions, and sales. He urged the government to take strict measures to regulate online platforms and achieve effective tobacco control goals in Pakistan.
Additionally, he noted that these harmful products are conspicuously displayed and easily accessible in local shops, major shopping centers, grocery stores, and malls—a deliberate tactic employed by the tobacco industry to lure children into purchasing them.
Khalil Ahmed, Program Manager SPARC, declared that the tobacco industry is waging a war on the health and well-being of Pakistan’s youth and children. By introducing a plethora of enticing flavors for e-cigarettes and offering discounts on purchases, the tobacco industry is reaping substantial profits at the expense of our children’s future. Ahmed emphasized the urgent need to protect the rights of our youth and safeguard their health from the clutches of the tobacco industry.
SPARC and its partners are committed to advocating for stronger regulations and a ban on these hazardous tobacco and nicotine products to ensure a healthier future for Pakistan’s children and youth. — DNA