Tobacco in Pakistan: is it worth to burn your money?

Smoking Tobacco

(Unsplash, 2018)

This article was exclusively written for the The European Sting by Mr. Aniq Ahmad, a 4th Year MBBS student at Akhtar Saeed Medical and Dental College, Lahore. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Today, we float in a world that is driven by an ocean of diseases and we have evidence that tobacco is amongst the leading causes of it. And still we neglect it. Now is the time to shine some light onto the prism of our own inadequacies and negligence in dealing with a major health problem.

Seeing grownups smoking near their children is a common sight in Pakistan. All parents love their children of course; it is just that they are not aware regarding passive smoking. We need to disseminate information about the harmful effects of tobacco and smoking in a closed space near other people.
Selling cigarettes to minors has been banned but the story doesn’t end here; shopkeepers still get to manage that for their own gain. People must be made aware via social media that actions like these would be responsible for spoiled children, irresponsible future adults and a backlash for the country’s growth.
Glamorization. It’s on the hype. And the hype cannot be contained. Instead of insulting smokers, we can improve their spiritual and mental health. We can never stop the unwilling unless we make them realize through regular advertisements against smoking. In that regard, we must advertise safer substitutes for tobacco.
Rehabilitation facilities must be made accessible to smokers. Also, it must be made sure the public understands that seeking rehabilitation is nothing to be ashamed of, but is a brave step that only the courageous take. It would promote self-help.
No Smoking signs in public areas and health hazardous lines on packets; all that is good and necessary. The laws are already in place, but does that stop people from smoking in public places? Well, no. Because it is not enough! Smoking in “no smoking zones” is to be fined, but we never see anyone getting a smoking ticket. Our nation is in a phase where leniency doesn’t work because smoking has become so routine. In a developing country like Pakistan, laws against smoking in public areas exist according to Article 8 of WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control; they only need to be implemented with greater vigour.
Import of Cigarettes is difficult to stop because that would take the tobacco business down. However, government can arrange adequately funded state tobacco-control programs, tobacco taxation, smoke-free air policies, warning labels, restrictions on tobacco marketing and advertising, hard-hitting media campaigns, and barrier-free cessation programs as cost-effective alternatives.
People inspire people! By seeing fellows working in a healthy environment, people would be encouraged not only to avoid insulting those who smoke but also use their smoking-free life as an example to explain its perks!

Conclusion. In Pakistan, the laws are in place and smoking is prohibited in all places of public work and use, public transport, and outdoor waiting areas for public buses and trains. Where we lack is strict implementation of these laws in the form of fines or charges in order to discipline the nation.

About the author

Aniq Ahmad is a 4th Year MBBS student at Akhtar Saeed Medical and Dental College, Lahore. He is interested in blogging and photography. He believes he also has a unique ability of creating poems out of prose. Besides, he writes introductory profiles for charity organizations to help them get online donations. He also has a love for writing about public issues.

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