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Legitimizing HTPs poses threat to children: SPARC

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Islamabad: Health advocates have expressed their deep apprehension regarding the premature decision made by the former Cabinet to legitimize Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs) through a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO). In an official statement released by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), these health advocates are urgently calling on the Minister of Health to investigate the alarming situation of HTPs now being readily available for sale across Pakistan.

Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, underscored the seriousness of the matter, declaring, “The move to legitimize HTPs poses a significant threat to our public health objectives, particularly concerning our youth. These products have been sanctioned without conducting a thorough cost-benefit or risk assessment, making it easier for children and young people to adopt them. HTPs are not only highly habit-forming but also expose users, including our children, to a hazardous mix of harmful chemicals and carcinogens. We cannot compromise the health of our citizens, especially the younger generation, by permitting these harmful products into the market. It is our moral obligation to shield our children from the predatory tactics of the tobacco industry, which seeks to profit at the expense of the nation’s well-being.”

Dr. Ziauddin Islam, Former Technical Head of the Tobacco Control Cell at the Ministry of Health, emphasized the critical importance of making decisions based on evidence, stating, “The evidence is crystal clear: HTPs are not a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. Their consumption leads to addiction and a wide range of severe health issues, including respiratory and cardiovascular problems. As responsible guardians of public health, it is essential that we act in the best interests of our population’s health. The World Health Organization (WHO) has consistently cautioned against the use of HTPs, urging governments worldwide to implement stringent regulations to protect their citizens. Pakistan should heed this call and prioritize the health and well-being of its people above all else.”

Khalil Ahmed Dogar, Program Manager, emphasized the importance of protecting the rights and health of children. He stated, “We call upon the government to reconsider this decision, as it could have severe consequences for the well-being of our youth.” Khalil urged the Health Minister to engage in comprehensive discussions with public health experts, civil society organizations, and concerned citizens to ensure that any regulatory measures prioritize the health and well-being of the people of Pakistan.

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