Youth and smoking

W Mirza
Islamabad

In a significant move, the City District Government Lahore has sealed at least 30 shops in different parts of the city for selling cigarettes to underage children. 14 shopkeepers were also arrested. The use of Tobacco has emerged as a serious health challenge in Pakistan – especially among the youth. Pakistan figures high among countries with regard to smoking.
According to experts, tobacco causes to kill nearly six million people each year worldwide with more than 600,000 non-smokers dying from passive smoking. In Pakistan, about 40% males and 9% females smoke and the number is increasing with each passing day. However, more alarming is that 1000 to 1200 school-children aged 6-16 are smokers in the country. These estimates have been provided by the Pakistan Paediatrics Association (PPA). According to a new report released by the association, the smokers of the low socio-economic group spend 25% of their total household income on cigarettes. The Minister of National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar in 2015 decided to increase the size of pictorial warnings on cigarette packets, which now cover 85 percent of cigarette package, on both sides. This was a laudable move but very few pay any heed to it. Tobacco industry is very strong and powerful, thus impedes any anti-smoking move. Government alone cannot put a full-stop on smoking, we all will have to fight the menace collectively.

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