By Sania Qadir
12.4% of the people surveyed in the Global Adult Tobacco Survey in Pakistan were smokers. The number of smokers in the country does not seem to be decreasing despite a rising number of smokers wanting to ditch the habit altogether.
The survey shines an important light on the false impression about tobacco products and the lack of understanding of their hazards to health. It shows that 86% of the respondents were routinely exposed to second-hand smoke, whether at home or in public places.
With increased awareness and access to alternatives, Pakistan can significantly reduce its tobacco burden in a short amount of time: just a couple of years ago, the UK government changed its policy and now advocates, as part of its national tobacco control policy, the use of less harmful alternatives to smoking cigarettes.
Other countries, like Greece and the US, have also endorsed the switch from cigarettes to alternatives for smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke.
According to official government sources from the above-mentioned countries, cigarette sales began to dramatically decline after smokers were encouraged to use less harmful products like E-cigarettes, nicotine pouches, snus, and heated tobacco products to end their use of cigarettes.
There is a need to educate cigarette consumers on the harms of tobacco combustion, while also raising awareness of the misconceptions regarding less harmful alternatives.
When tobacco is burned, it produces smoke that contains more than 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic and can cause cancer and other diseases. Inhaling these chemicals through smoking can damage the lungs, heart, and other organs, leading to serious health consequences.
In fact, data from around the world has shown that the correct regulation and awareness among the masses make for the most effective combination when it comes to encouraging smokers to let go of the habit.
Right now, is a crucial time to create meaningful dialogue about the urgent threat of cigarette smoking, as more people continue to fall prey.
With appropriate awareness about smoking, people from all walks of life can be equipped with the knowledge and abilities to live a life free of cigarettes and their associated risks.
Sania Qadir is a freelance writer with a keen interest in science and technology.