World No Tobacco Day

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‘World No Tobacco Day’ is observed on May 31st every year to raise awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco consumption, and to promote effective policies to reduce tobacco use worldwide. In Pakistan, where tobacco consumption remains a significant public health concern, this day holds special significance.
Tobacco use is a global epidemic that poses serious health risks to individuals and society at large. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year, with over 7 million of those deaths being the result of direct tobacco use, and around 1.2 million deaths being attributed to non-smokers being exposed to secondhand smoke.
World No Tobacco Day serves as a reminder of the dangers of tobacco use and the need for effective tobacco control measures. Each year, the WHO and its partners use this day to highlight specific themes and focus areas related to tobacco control. These themes range from raising awareness about the risks of smoking to advocating for strong tobacco control policies and supporting individuals in their efforts to quit tobacco.
Pakistan faces significant challenges regarding tobacco consumption. According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) conducted in 2014, approximately 19.1% of adults in Pakistan currently use tobacco in some form. This includes both smoking and smokeless tobacco use. Moreover, tobacco-related illnesses account for a substantial burden on the healthcare system and contribute to premature deaths and disabilities.

The Government of Pakistan recognizes the seriousness of the tobacco epidemic and has taken several steps to combat it. Here are some notable efforts:

Pakistan has implemented various laws and regulations to control tobacco use. The most significant is the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health Ordinance, 2002, which prohibits smoking in public places and requires the placement of graphic health warnings on cigarette packs.
The government should raise tobacco taxes to discourage consumption and increase prices. Higher prices make tobacco products less affordable, especially for young people.
Pakistan mandates graphic health warnings on cigarette packs, covering 50% of the front and back surfaces. These warnings include images and messages that highlight the health issues associated with tobacco use.
The government has implemented tobacco control programs to raise awareness, educate the public, and provide support for tobacco cessation. These programs focus on both smoking and smokeless tobacco.
Pakistan actively collaborates with international organizations like the WHO and non-governmental organizations to develop and implement effective tobacco control strategies. These collaborations ensure access to technical expertise, funding, and global best practices.
Despite these efforts, challenges persist in combating the tobacco epidemic in Pakistan. Some of the challenges include limited resources, inadequate enforcement of tobacco control laws, and the influence of the tobacco industry. To overcome these challenges, Pakistan needs to focus on strengthening enforcement, it is crucial to strengthen the enforcement of existing tobacco control laws to ensure compliance and discourage violations.
We should adopt comprehensive tobacco control policies that address all aspects of tobacco use, including smoking and smokeless tobacco.

Continued efforts are required to raise public awareness about the dangers of tobacco use and the benefits of quitting. This can be done through media campaigns, community engagement, and educational programs.
Accessible and affordable tobacco cessation services should be made available to individuals who want to quit tobacco use.

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