ISLAMABAD : General Secretary, Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) Sanaullah Ghumman has said that smoking is the first step towards addiction and future of youth is at stake as every year about 1200 children between the age of 6 and 15 years initiate smoking in Pakistan. He was chairing a meeting at PANAH office on Monday. Tobacco victims were also present on the occasion. Sanaullah Ghumman said that sale of cigarettes, sometimes even loose cigarettes, near educational institutions continue at nearby kiosks. In Pakistan cigarettes continue to be sold at one of the cheapest rates, he said adding that higher taxes as per the recommendation of WHO and a health levy must be implemented to make cigarettes unaffordable and inaccessible for the youth. The government will have to play its part in enforcing the health levy, he said. Speaking on the occasion, Colonel (retd) Tariq praised PANAH’s efforts in tobacco control and also expressed distress at the scale of tobacco epidemic in Pakistan. He said that everyone in society has rights, and as a non-smoker, I still have to deal with harmful pollutants and toxins of chemical tobacco smoke wherever I go. He expressed his concern over early age exposure of children to tobacco smoking. Health levy bill must be implemented as it will not only generate additional revenue for the country but also prevent youth to initiate smoking by increasing the cost.
Colonel (retd) Tariq said that the law prohibiting the sale of cigarettes in shops around children educational institutions should be strictly enforced. I request the government through the PANAH to enforce the Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance, 2002 . It is intoxicating, the smoker still harms his health as much as the smoker does. General Secretary Sanaullah Ghumman said that PANAH is working on heart disease and its causes. Col. Tariq’s sentiments are valuable for us. From the PANAH Platform, I assure you that I will do my best to convey his message to the Government. Sanaullah Ghumman appealed to the government to reduce the use of tobacco by implementing a health levy.