100,000 die annually due to tobacco use in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: About 100,000 people die annually due to tobacco use in Pakistan and use of Shisha amongst the youth is an emerging health risk.

According to figures of Ministry of Health Services, Regulations and Coordination about 22-25 million people in Pakistan are smokers and 55% of households contain at least one smoker.

Around 36% of adult males and 9% of adult females are tobacco users so the male to female ratio is 4:1. while the boy to girl tobacco use ratio is 2:1. In a year, five million people get killed in the world as a direct result of tobacco.

In 2025, ten million people could die from this addiction worldwide while in the 20th century, tobacco epidemic killed 100 million people worldwide. Tobacco killed 1 in 10 adults worldwide and if unchecked and uncontrolled, during 21st century it could kill one billion. In a widely hailed move, the Ministry of National Health Services last year announced introduction of new larger size of Pictorial Health Warning on cigarette packs.

The new Pictorial Warning covers remarkable 85 percent of cigarette pack on both sides. The measure made Pakistan only the third country in the world besides Thailand and India to have enhanced Pictorial Health Warning to 85 percent. It is a major stride forward in curbing tobacco use.

The size of the warning has been more than doubled from 40 percent to 85 percent. The matter of introducing the new enhanced Pictorial Warning was stalled since 2011. After taking office in June 2013, the government started working with focus both on communicable and non- communicable diseases.

A process of consultation was initiated with the provinces to revive the Tobacco Control Program and strengthen it. The Ministry also set about the task of aiming the critical measure of introduction of the long overdue Pictorial Health Warning with the stakeholders.

Now Pakistan has fulfilled its obligation under Article 11 of the Frame Work Convention of Tobacco Control and become a world leader for the other countries to follow. Pictorial Warning on tobacco packs in the most effective means of communication with tobacco users.

According to research, a smoker looks at this picture at an average of 7,000 times in a year. Moreover, those who intend to initiate smoking are discouraged by the warning whereas it encourages those who intend to quit smoking.

Under the new measure, cigarette manufactured and sold in the country and imported into the country is required to have the new pictorial warning. Any manufacturer, importer, distributer or retailer violating the new law will be proceeded against according to law.