ISLAMABAD: Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar Wednesday informed the Senate that Pakistan was ranked 54th amidst 84 countries with high frequency of tobacco smoking.
Replying to a question during the session, the minister said almost 24 million (19.1%) adults currently used tobacco in any form in Pakistan. That accounted for 15.6 million (12.4%) adults, who currently smoked tobacco and another 9.6 million (7.7%) adults, who used smokeless tobacco (Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 2014), she added.
Moreover, 5,000 Pakistanis were admitted to hospitals every day owing to the poor health conditions caused by tobacco use (Pakistan Health Education Survey, 1999), she said.
She said in Pakistan, tobacco was a significant cause of death of around 160,189 persons each year. Moreover, the economic cost of smoking amounted to 143.208 billion rupees, she said.
The minister said early detection and treatment of diseases caused by tobacco use were done along with other diseases in the hospitals. Since health services delivery is a devolved subject, so Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) and provincial governments are taking steps for early detection and treatment of diseases causes by tobacco use, she said.
She said to increase awareness among masses, the ministry has taken various steps including national mass media campaigns on tobacco control with assistance of World Lung Foundation (2015 & 2016), a pilot advocacy campaign in cinema theatres across Pakistan, with the support of Federal Film Censor Board.
In this campaign, two tobacco control messages “Alive” and “Sponge” have been disseminated to all cinema theatres to air/ broadcast them during their shows regularly, she said.