LAHORE - World No Tobacco Day is observed Wednesday, sending a clear message to the government to take steps in the coming budget to discourage smoking, reports Capital Calling, a network of academic researchers and professionals.
“Tobacco is responsible for 8 million deaths,” it says citing World Health Organization (WHO) report for this year. WHO has released a report titled ‘Grow food, not tobacco,’ that “also exposes the tobacco industry for trapping farmers in a vicious cycle of debt, propagating tobacco growing by exaggerating its economic benefits and lobbying through farming front groups.”
Dr Hassan Shehzad, from International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI), says that though tobacco is not a major crop in Pakistan, multinational cigarette manufacturers do not change their tactics of coercion and manipulation.
He said that compared to Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, China and other regional countries, cigarettes are the cheapest in Pakistan, making it a haven for big companies. He said recently, the world’s leading cigarette maker was caught doing illicit trade with North Korea in violation of sanctions. The brand had to pay 635 million dollars and interest to the US authorities for what its head dubbed “misconduct”. Dr Shezad urged the Pakistan government to work out ways to stifle the possibility of such illicit activities by multinational companies here.
Dr Muhammad Zaman, the founding chairman of the Department of Sociology at QAU, in his message pressed on the need to promote cigarette quitting in society. “Smoking is more of a habit than an addiction. A smoker thinks that he or she is missing something when they light a cigarette. It later becomes a habit. There is a need to break this habit,” he said.
He said that educated and uneducated people fall prey to this habit equally. “University professors and doctors continue smoking in the presence of visitors in their offices unconsciously or consciously. Sometimes, when they are interrupted, they feel sorry. We need to encourage them to quit smoking,” he said.
“Unfortunate,” he said, “is the fact that there is a lack of serious research on this topic and worn-out data is being circulated on and on.
Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal, dean of the faculty of social sciences at IIUI, in his message, says, “Smoking becomes a kind of norm in society and people take it as an accepted practice. Unfortunately, our academia does not attach negative traits of sociocultural norms to smoking. Rather, some heroic or stylish concepts are attached to smoking.”
Health hazards of smoking are a reality but social unacceptability has to be attached to smoking as has been the case in educated societies where smokers do not command the respect they do here in Pakistan, he said.
Prof Zafar says that a new narrative is needed to be built to discourage smoking as highlighting only its health hazards is not enough. He says there is a need to conduct research and analyze data on modern lines.
“The data that different interest groups present to international audiences lack validity and is collected through questionable methods in most cases. Academicians and professionals should be encouraged to do the task so that a clear picture comes up,” he concluded.
Pakistani currency remains stable against US dollar in the open market on February 26, 2024 (Monday).
In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.5 for buying and 282.55 for selling.
Euro currently stands at 302 for buying and 305 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 352.5 for buying, and 356 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED hovers at 76.1 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 74.35.
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