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Islamabad: Public health activists have raised concerns over the tobacco industry’s persistent attempts to derail tobacco control efforts in the country.

This longstanding tactic by the tobacco industry to disrupt tobacco control efforts, particularly during pre-budget months, has once again come under scrutiny by public health advocates, they added.

Experts told Business Recorder that the tobacco industry’s misleading campaigns aimed to distract the public, especially youth, policymakers, media, and the government from its ulterior motive: profit at the expense of public health.

Health activists have expressed concerns over the widespread dissemination of false statements by the tobacco industry, which only serve to conceal the harm caused to the people of Pakistan.

The tobacco industry has spared no effort to expand its business while jeopardizing the future of Pakistani youth and children by enticing them with its harmful products.

These efforts include attempts to block or weaken tobacco control measures such as taxes on cigarettes, smoke-free laws, sales to minors, and promotional and advertising restrictions.

The tobacco industry’s efforts to divert attention from public health initiatives include using celebrities and social media to attract youth with falsified claims, spreading false statistics and myths to downplay the harm caused by their products, and most recently maligning government departments and officials who support tobacco control.

These attempts are driven by their economic interests in maintaining and expanding tobacco sales, despite the well-established health risks associated with tobacco use. However, public health advocates, researchers, and policymakers continue to work to counter these efforts and implement evidence-based strategies to reduce tobacco use and its impact on public health, they added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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