Every year World No Tobacco Day celebrated on 31st May, Awareness Sessions, seminars, press conferences and walks organized in all over the world to aware public about the hazards of tobacco use. Whereas on this day it was also urged to the governments to ensure the implementation on existing tobacco control laws and to make effective laws for the protection of young generation’s health.
This year WHO theme for WNTD 2021 is “Commit to Quit”, according to WHO it will help create healthier environments that are conducive to quitting tobacco by advocating for strong tobacco cessation policies; increasing access to cessation services; raising awareness of tobacco industry tactics, and empowering tobacco users to make successful quit attempts through “quit & win” initiatives.
Quitting tobacco is challenging, especially with the added social and economic stresses that have come as a result of the pandemic. Worldwide around 780 million people say they want to quit, but only 30% of them have access to the tools that can help them do so.
WHO released a scientific brief earlier this year showing that smokers are at higher risk of developing severe disease and death from COVID-19. Tobacco is also a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes. Moreover, people living with these conditions are more vulnerable to severe COVID-19.
However, WHO calls on all governments to ensure their citizens have access to brief advice, toll-free quit lines, mobile and digital cessation services, nicotine replacement therapies and other tools that are proven to help people quit. Strong cessation services improve health, save lives and save money.
According to the data available on website of Tobacco Control Cell of Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination In the year 2017, 163,360 people die in Pakistan because of tobacco use, whereas 5000 Pakistanis are admitted to hospitals every day because of tobacco use (Source: Pakistan Health Education Survey, 1999) and 1200 Pakistani children between ages 6 and 15 begin smoking every day (Source: Global Youth Tobacco Survey, 2003).
The Government of Pakistan has taken several initiatives to save the lives of future generations which includes “Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance, 2002”, numbers of SROs which have issued in its continuation and also Government of Pakistan has signed the Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC) in May, 2004 and ratified it in the same year.
On the other hand under Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC) placed Tobacco Control Cell (TCC) under DG Health wing since July 2020 and mainly the work of TCC is smoke free initiatives which is acknowledged by WHO.
Tobacco Control Cells in five districts of Punjab through the support of respective district government official’s i.e Deputy Commissioners/ Additional Deputy Commissioners, from 2019 till now several initiatives have been taken for tobacco control in these five districts of Punjab including Islamabad which is a capital city of Pakistan.
Secretariat of FCTC had already recognized the Smoke Free Islamabad model internationally through displaying the snapshot of SF Rose & Jasmin Public Park at title page of its annual report. As Pakistan is applauded for implementing the “M” measures (monitoring of tobacco use policies) in the MPOWER package to the highest level.
Dr. Minhaj us Siraj, Project Director is the pioneer of Smoke Free model in Islamabad and now this Smoke Free model is being replicated in Karachi under his leadership titled “Tobacco Smoke Free Karachi initiative”.
This initiative has been taken which intends to make Karachi a smoke free model city through the enforcement of Tobacco Control laws. The said initiative was taken last year and work was started in district east and south of Karachi by the support of Commissioner Karachi and respective Deputy Commissioners/Additional Deputy Commissioners.
It was also learned that this year on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day 2021 , Tobacco Control Cell (TCC), Ministry of NHSR&C by the continuous struggle of Project Director Dr Minhaj us Siraj and Project Manager Muhammad Aftab have got two greatest achievements. The first achievement is World Health Organization (WHO) award’s Pakistan for its effective anti-tobacco steps in EMRO region, Secretariat of FCTC recognizes the Smoke Free Islamabad model, it is expected that the said award would be given to Dr. Minhaj us Siraj on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day 31st May 2021 in Islamabad.
The second achievement is from Pakistan’s largest city and business hub Karachi where the Commissioner Karachi has issued directives to all the seven deputy commissioners of Karachi for the formation of District Implementation and Monitoring Committee and Tobacco Control Cells for the enforcement of Tobacco Control laws in Karachi city.
Project Manager TSFC Muhammad Aftab told that the achievement from Karachi is the result of Additional Commissioner / Focal Person for Tobacco Control Karachi Jawwad Muzaffar continued efforts and personal interest for the enforcement of tobacco control laws to save the lives of our future generations.
When we talk about other achievements of NHSRC regarding Tobacco Control it includes all public places of Islamabad and the events which held in the city are declared smoke free.
In addition all the tobacco products sellers in Islamabad are registered and it is mandatory for every shopkeeper to get license from Excise department if they are selling any tobacco products and also abide ensure the enforcement of Tobacco Control laws.
Moreover, Smoke free Pakistan mobile application is also one of the great achievement of this directorate by which citizens could report violations of tobacco control laws.
No Doubt the steps are appreciable and now citizens could hope that in future Pakistan would be a smoke free country and it will be emerged as an example for all over the world.