It should be a matter of concern that that tobacco industry is targeting low- and middle-income countries like Pakistan through their sophisticated marketing tactics. With the e-commerce boom, sale of cigarettes and other such products has become easier. It seems that the regulations that ban sale of cigarettes to minors in Pakistan can easily be circumvented through such platforms that are like a blind spot. The government should not only ensure strict implementation of the rules already in place but it should also address unregulated means of tobacco sale.
It is unfortunate that around 24 million people in Pakistan use tobacco in one form or the other, adding a burden to our healthcare system which is preventable. An example being that nearly 40% of the cancer cases, involving adult males, at the facilities of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust are related to the use of tobacco. Cancer is only one of the four major non-communicable diseases related to tobacco-use and all lead to debilitating illness and death.
We need to integrate tobacco cessation interventions in our primary healthcare system and build a tobacco-cessation support system for these people now for prevention of disease and death in the future.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2021.