ISLAMABAD: Two federal organisations have joined forces to make all university campuses tobacco-free.
The Higher Education Commission (HEC) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) on Wednesday.
Meanwhile environmental and health representatives also seconded the idea and vowed to increase their efforts to eliminate tobacco use not just from the capital but from all over the country.
The seminar, organised by the HEC in collaboration with members of the Tobacco-Smoke Free Capital (TSFC) of the division, aimed at creating awareness among youth.
In a ceremony, HEC chairperson Dr Mukhtar Ahmed declared the commission premises a smoke-free facility.
Ahmed said that the HEC was also going to send letters to all the universities asking them to declare their premises smoke-free. He said that universities should frequently arrange sports events to encourage healthier lifestyle.
The division’s Deputy Director-General, Health, Dr Minhajus Siraj while speaking about the history of tobacco, and trends in the country, said that tobacco companies use certain psychological tactics to sell their products.
“Recently, a tobacco company has signed an agreement with the ministry of climate change to build a botanical garden, however we have officially requested the ministry to annul the agreement,” Siraj said.
He said that under one roof there was no safety margin for second-hand smoke as passive smokers were susceptible to a 200 per cent increased risk of getting tumours.
“Sheesha and hookah produces 71 times more smoke, making it 200 times more dangerous than regular smoke, while e-cigarette is also found to be 10 times more harmful,” Siraj added.
While speaking to The Express Tribune, he said that the ultimate goal should be to finish tobacco industry from Pakistan.
“We need to offer the tobacco industry as well as its users with a workable alternative and that will not happen in a day,” he said.
Dr Siraj highlighted the hazards of tobacco items including naswar, gutka, hookah, beeri, cigar and sheesha. He said that it was regrettable that 55 per cent of households had at least one smoker.
The International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease Adviser Fowad Aslam, said, “If we increase price of a cigarette pack, a money-constraint population in a country such as Pakistan cannot afford to buy it on a regular basis,” he said
HEC Executive Director Dr Raza Bhatti told The Express Tribune said that he was glad that they were starting with making HEC smoke free.
Pakistan’s Women Football Team captain Sana Mahmood spoke about the power of sport in helping and healing human life.
“Sport is not only the fuel for a healthy body but I believe it is the need for a troubled mind too,” she said.
Talking about behavioural issues and motivations that cause people to take up smoking, Mahmood said that people should be encouraged to make informed choices.
“I would rather kick a ball around and be able to run a mile instead of trying to catch my breath every time walking up on the stairs,” Mahmood said.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2015.
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