Pakistan along with other countries will observe World No Tobacco Day on May 31 with the theme “The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control”.
Tobacco consumption has emerged to be the leading preventable cause of death as its use kills more than five million people every year, about 1.5 million of whom are women.
Experts talking to APP on Wednesday said the day observed each year provides an opportunity to review initiatives taken to counter tobacco smoking and chewing coupled with the associated health risks.
“We have to review the situation in our particular context,” said Dr. Javaid A Khan, representative of WHO FCTC for Pakistan.
“We like many of the developing countries are facing growing pressure from the tobacco industry,” he said.
The parties to the Convention have already reaffirmed their strong commitment to prioritize health measures and to exchange information on the industry’s activities that attempt to interfere with the implementation of public health policies.
“Most important of these is the integration of cessation services into the national health systems,” said Dr. Khan.
This he said is particularly focussed on young smokers keen to quit. Moreover, government policy towards price and taxation of tobacco products is also being monitored and required assistance is provided to motivate public representatives, policy makers as well as those actively involved in budgetary making processes.
In reply to a question, he said due consideration is extended towards the tobacco growing farmers and attention is being paid to help them look for alternative but equally or more profitable crops.
“Shisha (Arabic mode of piped smoking) and massive use of tobacco as essential component of varied concoction extensively used in the country by both men and women, at times even by children can also not be ignored,” said Dr. Khan.
He said close coordination between government and civil society keen to improve health standards is needed to reduce the number of new smokers, especially youth.
“By enforcing the WHO Framework Convention, governments can reduce the toll of fatal and crippling heart attacks, strokes, cancers and respiratory diseases that have become increasingly prevalent among women,” he said.