KARACHI: No less than 100,000 people die of smoking induced diseases in the country every year against collection of around Rs.70 billion as sales tax on cigarettes only.
Prof. Dr. Javed A Khan a senior pulmonologist and one of the most prominent campaigners fighting for public right to health and quality life talking to APP Friday said there was urgent need that federal and provincial governments set their priorities right.
There is absolutely nothing above or more important than right of any citizen to quality life and healthy environment he said.
Regretting inability of the authorities to resist the pressure of tobacco industry he said easy availability of smuggled cigarettes has severely jeopardised the life quality of both active smokers and passive smokers.
Passive smokers he mentioned are those who do not smoke but are exposed to smoke due to their presence in an environment be it a room or any other space where others may be smoking.
This should be therefore of no surprise that lungs and prostate cancers besides asthma chest and lung infections coronary diseases are fast emerging as the commonest cause of morbidity and mortality in our country, he said.
Dr. Khan said what is all the more alarming is steady increase in the number of youth indulging in smoking tobacco be it in form of cigarette or the trendy sheesha.
Cosmetic measures like forced closure of cafes and other outlets where sheesha is readily available cannot make any difference. He urged for strict vigilance to ensure that it is not available at all.
This is often their first step towards the slippery domain of drug addiction warned the senior doctor.
In reply to a question he said public education is important but this has to be necessarily complimented with measures adopted by state against availability of cigarettes and other tobacco based products be they cigarette, bidi, sheesha, gutka or plain tobacco used by locals as tambakoo.
I know cultivation of tobacco is source of living for many of our people said the activist suggesting need to sensitize concerned farmers about its repercussions on the public mainly youth.
Farmers he said can always be provided with better alternatives as there is wide range of cultivation options often more profitable that neither add to their recurring expenditure nor demand extra labour.
I am extremely concerned about the future of the youth who are lured by advertisements and also due to peer pressure do indulge in the unhealthy habit that may not be heavy to their pockets but is definitely disastrous for their health elaborated the pulmonologist.
Situation is definitely getting grimmer as outpatient departments of different hospitals across the country are witnessed to be packed with people in their 30s and 40s reporting with serious ailments.
This cannot be ignored as sizable number of our people who should otherwise be efficient contributor to the economy are turning unproductive and eventually it is again the national exchequer that has to arrange treatment and medication for the ailing citizens.
About public will to get rid of the menace Dr. Khan agreed that it may be a gigantic task but is doable and not impossible.