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ISLAMABAD: The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) raised alarms on the reports of tobacco industry moving to regularise heated tobacco devices, a move which health activists believe will put health of Pakistani children in grave danger.

Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), stated that since Pakistan’s independence 75 years ago, there hasn’t been a single day where tobacco industry hasn’t directly hurt our children. Tobacco industry needs children as replacement smokers to swap for the people who lose their lives due to tobacco consumption.

This industry believes that life of Pakistani children is cheap and meaningless therefore they try all possible means to earn money at the expense of children’s health. Whether it is deceptive and misleading campaigns to gain more costumers or direct interfering in public policy, the industry tries to throw dirt in our eyes.

An industry whose products are responsible for loss of 170,000 lives every year, is trying to launch more deadly products only because it believes it can get away with this by paying a negligible tax – which is no way year the damage it causes.

Dr Ziauddin Islam, Country Lead Tobacco Control, Vital Strategies, former technical head of Tobacco Control Cell of MoNHSRC, and former technical focal person of the Government of Pakistan for WHOs FCTC; said tobacco industry sees Pakistan as a “key trial market” for nicotine-based products and children are its test subjects. Tobacco industry is promoting and marketing novel products without restrictions.

He mentioned that claims of these products being cessation items is one of the biggest fallacies going around. These products are nothing but a new gimmick to early more money. He demanded that there should be a complete ban on nicotine products and the government should adopt necessary legislation at the earliest to save Pakistan’s youth.

Khalil Ahmed Dogar, Programme Manager SPARC, said that tobacco industry has repeatedly proven by its actions that it doesn’t care for the health and lives of Pakistani children. It is up to the government, civil society, academia and media to unite and put a barrier against this industry which is trying to derail our future by putting our children at risk. There’s a dire need to adopt a sustainable National Tobacco Control Policy which ensures that anti-child move is made now or in future.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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