Ninety-five percent of Pakistani smokers believe that switching to alternatives can help them quit smoking, according to the results of an opinion survey that was conducted in major cities across Pakistan.
However, 86 percent of Pakistani smokers who wanted to quit smoking have been unsuccessful despite repeated attempts.
The founder and CEO of the Association for Smoking Alternatives Pakistan (ASAP), Mirza M. Abeer, addressed a ceremony in Islamabad and said that the best option is for smokers to quit the habit, but the majority of smokers who cannot do so should at least move to safer alternatives like e-cigarettes or heated tobacco products.
The survey was commissioned by ASAP and conducted by Foresight Research, with over 600 smokers and users of alternatives to smoking to help understand smokers’ perceptions about cigarette alternatives. The research was a component of ASAP’s anti-smoking campaign launched in early November to get one million Pakistanis to quit cigarettes.
“This would help a lot in reducing the number of smokers in the country,” he remarked.
Almost all the participants of the survey chose better health as one of the primary reasons for switching from cigarettes, and 98 percent stated that their health has improved as a result of it.
When asked about the government’s role in the matter, 82 percent said that the harm caused by cigarette smoking is a public health crisis, and 80 percent opined that the use of alternatives can help reduce the number of smokers in the country.
About 89 percent of the participants agreed that alternatives to cigarettes should be readily available to smokers in Pakistan to help them stop smoking. Furthermore, 89 percent also understood that the government should encourage existing users who cannot quit cigarettes to at least switch to safer alternatives.
A lawyer by profession, Abeer has founded Pakistan’s largest online community of smokers-turned-alternative users. His efforts are inspired by the UK government’s policies that encourage alternatives to cigarettes to reduce the country’s smoking rates.