MULTAN: There is a dire need to establish 15 cancer hospitals in the country for the treatment of rapidly increasing number of patients while 40% cancers diagnosed in the world may have a link to tobacco use. Pakistan has the highest consumption of tobacco in South Asia where 45% males as well as about 10% females smoke.

Frequent use of tobacco causes life threatening diseases while efforts should be taken to ban its use in Pakistan.

These views were expressed by Nishtar Hospital and Dentistry Board of Management Chairperson Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi and Oncologist Prof Dr Abrar Ahmad Javed while speaking to The Express Tribune in Multan.

Highlighting details, Roomi said tobacco use is the leading cause of deaths related to cancer. “It causes lung cancer, mouth and throat cancer, stomach and kidney cancer and etc.

Roomi stressed the need to focus on comprehensive cancer control programmes to reduce cancer risk, detecting cancer early, improving cancer treatments, helping more people survive cancer and assisting communities affected by the deadly disease.

Doctors stress there is no ‘safe way’ to smoke

He pointed out comprehensive tobacco control programmes and coordinated efforts are essential in preventing tobacco use among youth and adults, to promote tobacco users to quit, to eliminate second hand smoke exposure, and to identify and eliminate tobacco-related disparities.

Roomi warned that one billion people will likely die in 21st century due to medical conditions and diseases caused by tobacco use across the globe.

While speaking to The Express Tribune, Oncologist Prof Dr Abrar Ahmad Javed said the tobacco control could break the cycle of poverty, contribute to ending hunger, promote sustainable agriculture and economic growth and combat climate change.

“Each year 4.3 million hactres of land is used for tobacco cultivation in the world, resulting in 2% to 4% deforestation. It requires heavy amounts of pesticides and fertilisers which pollutes water supplies,” he maintained.

He said tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world and by 2030, it would claim 8 million lives.

Javed disclosed that 30% of all cancer related deaths are caused by tobacco use worldwide. Referring to Pakistan, he said,  “In just 2014, Pakistanis smoke 64 billion cigarettes costing the economy Rs264 billion,” he added.

Citing a report of Euro Monitor 2015, he said that the consumption of chewable tobacco, the most dangerous form of tobacco, also increased in Pakistan.

“The centre for disease control programme in United States conducted the analysis of 30 brands of chewable tobacco from Pakistan which disclosed that the samples contained high values of toxicants like cadium and arsenic which increase the cancer risk by 100,000 times,” he pointed out.

He demanded the government to impose heavy taxes on tobacco, impose ban on advertisements of cigarettes and ensure implementation of ban on smoking at public places.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2017.