Multisector Collaboration Required for Sustainable Tobacco Control Program in Pakistan: Experts

The Society for the Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) organized a seminar on “Need for Sustainable Tobacco Control Policies in Pakistan” in Islamabad on Tuesday.

Chief Guest at the occasion, Director General (Health) Ministry of National Health Services Dr. Shabana Saleem, said that Pakistan is lucky to have a majority of the population in youth who are an asset to our country.

She said that the youth is battling against the pandemic of tobacco and 1,200 children between the ages of 6 and 15 start smoking in Pakistan every year.

“We can’t let any industry deliberately target our youth to put their future in jeopardy, said Dr. Shabana, adding that Pakistan’s tobacco control efforts can only become sustainable if all stakeholders i.e. government, political parties, civil society, academia, and media put children’s future in front and take a joint stand against the tobacco industry,” she added.

She further stated that the tobacco control cell at the ministry is active and despite limited resources, the ministry is focusing on the implementation of existing policies and introducing new policies with the support of parliamentarians, civil society, academia, and media.

Alarming facts related to the consequences of tobacco consumption in Pakistan were shared by Vital Strategies Country Lead Dr. Ziauddin Islam who mentioned that the number of smokers in Pakistan has reached up to 31 million. Tobacco consumption is causing serious health implications for Pakistanis and yearly, 170,000 people die due to tobacco consumption.

SPARC Program Manager Khalil Ahmed Dogar said that Pakistan’s present, as well as future, depends on the survival, protection, and promotion of rights and development of its children. Therefore, we must set our differences aside when it comes to children and show our full commitment to establishing a sustainable tobacco control program in Pakistan, said Dogar.

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