Cigarettes deadlier than suicide vests: experts

Published: October 30, 2010
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98,640 people die of tobacco-related diseases every year in Pakistan.  PHOTO: AP

98,640 people die of tobacco-related diseases every year in Pakistan. PHOTO: AP

RAWALPINDI: Smoking is deadlier than suicide attacks. The Network for Consumer Protection (TN) arrived at that conclusion based on the fact that around 98,640 people (274 per day) die of tobacco-related diseases every year in Pakistan. Suicide attacks, on the other hand, have claimed around 6,000 lives in the past nine years.

In a discussion with journalists, TN highlighted the importance of curbing smoking in the country. The event was held at the Rawalpindi Press Club on Thursday.

The speakers presented smoking as a more serious threat than suicide bombings and made a case for stricter polices and increased vigilance against this ‘deadly activity’.

Presenting a recent report by Asian Development Bank, the speakers said that Pakistan had witnessed around 332 suicide attacks since September 11. These attacks have claimed 5,704 lives and injured thousands, besides damaging property worth billions of rupees.

Moreover, the government has spent around Rs1.63 billion as compensation to the victims of these attacks in the past two years.

On the other hand, they said there were around 25 million smokers in the country. “One authoritative estimate puts the number of tobacco related deaths at 100,000 per year, which equates to 274 deaths a day,” said a speaker.

Past surveys (NHSP 1990-94, PHES 1999) showed 55 per cent of households had at least one smoker. And recent data shows aggravation of the problem.

Representatives from TN said that 40 per cent of males and nine per cent of women indulge in smoking. The annual per capita consumption of tobacco in the country has been recorded at 391 cigarettes per adult per year, “making it a bigger concern for the common man,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, TN Advocacy and Research Coordinator Dr Anwar Rafay said it was the joint responsibility of the media and anti-smoking advocates to ensure the implementation policies to discourage the habit.

“Framework Convention on Tobacco Control guidelines and the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers’ Health Ordinance 2002 should be enforced to bring about the desired change,” he said.

He added that the tobacco industry was carrying out hidden promotional activities, flouting the strict ban on them. He said recently TN drew the media’s attention towards promotional activities of a tobacco giant in flood-hit areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

“Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani took prompt action on the TN report carried by various leading newspapers,” Dr Anwar Rafay added. He urged media persons to join hands with anti-tobacco advocates to make Pakistan a smoking-free country.

Journalists asked about clandestine promotional activities of the tobacco industry. They were told that recently a tobacco giant was found promoting its activities under the garb of corporate social responsibility.

“Around 1,200 new children in the age group of 6-15 start tobacco intake daily. Tobacco companies should not be given any encouragement by the media even to highlight their humanitarian activities,” Dr Rafay concluded.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • jehangir alam
    Oct 30, 2010 - 12:47PM

    i’ve seen all my life,docotors & experts going on & on about the harmful effects of cigarettes,but in my real life i’ve seen ppl who started smoking from their teens & still today in their 20’s having smoked for 15 years they are in perfect health,smoking hasn’t harmed their gpa’s,not their marriages,not their raising children,not their highly paid jobs in MNC’S.why all this false propoganda about cigarettes when in reality smokers lead a successful life,are excellent at jobs,raise families successfully & only in their old age(when as it is ppl are supposed to develop diseases) do they suffer problems.

    when in their teens,20’s smokers & non smokers aren’t different then why all this hype??Recommend

  • Raza Khalid
    Oct 30, 2010 - 9:13PM

    An uncle of mine, who smoked died last year from throat cancer.

    He had to have half his tongue cut out, during radiotherapy.

    If anyone had to witness his suffering, they wouldn’t go 100 miles near a cigarette!Recommend

  • javaid khan
    Nov 12, 2010 - 3:39PM

    NO one is saying that smoking or tobacco use is the only cause of disease or death.All we are saying that this is the single largest preventible cause of disease and death.Over all 5.4 million people died last year from tobacco according to WHO.THERE ARE MANY OTHER FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR DISEASES which are beyond our control but quitting tobacco is in our hand.Recommend

  • hasan
    Nov 16, 2010 - 11:59PM

    Mr. Jahangir, your observations are for people in the twenties. Lets talk about the total life expectancy. That is rapidly decreased as you go up the pack years number. The ‘propaganda’ is based on scientific and empirical research.

    Your observants may ostensibly ‘ in perfect health’, but many of the harmful effects of smoking happen at submicroscopic level. We are talking about adulterations to DNA structure and cellular organization. Therefore, to say that since they have a job in MNC, have a nice family life or are leading a successful life, they are enjoying ‘a perfect health’ would be extremely misleading.

    Tobacco products are freely available. You may buy it and use it in a proper manner. Please make sure that your kids are not exposed to second hand smoke.

    Thank you Recommend

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