The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. According to WHO Tobacco kills more than 8 million people a year around the world and remains the leading cause of preventable deaths. Cigarette smoking is the most common form of tobacco use worldwide. Pakistan has 24 million active tobacco users and is one of the world’s top tobacco consuming countries. Sehat Kahani, the affluent tele-medicine organisation has rolled out many successful public campaigns in the past that disseminate credible information about diseases and their prevention as well as methods of harm reduction.
Sehat Kahani has once again taken the initiative to launch a Quit Smoking campaign with the objective of encouraging people to give up cigarette smoking and to reach out to civil society organizations which are working towards the same aim which will be engaged to promote their efforts to increase the reach of Sehat Kahani’s campaign.
To kick off the campaign Sehat Kahani held an online webinar on December 7th 2021, where prominent officials from the Tobacco Control Cell and ministry of health participated and shared their thoughts on how to curb the usage & their experiences on the harmfulness of cigarette consumption amongst a population of over 220 million Pakistanis.
COO & Co-founder Sehat Kahani, Dr. Iffat Zafar Aga, moderated the webinar which was graced by expert panelists; Dr. Nausheen Hamid – Parliamentary Secretary on Health & Dr. Samra Mazhar- Deputy Director Programs – Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination and Professor Doctor Mr. Shahzad Ali Khan, VC Health Services Academy,
On this occasion, Ms. Nausheen Hamid – Parliamentary Secretary on Health Pakistan commented: “The ministry is actively working on ways to curb the consumption of tobacco by introducing various policies, reforms, as well as taxes to reduce tobacco consumption especially in the youth and we, are also working towards reducing illicit tobacco trade and look forward towards receiving support from the private sector in enhancing awareness around quitting cigarette consumption and collectively moving towards behavioural change”
This statement was further cemented when Ms. Samra Mazhar – Deputy Director Programs – Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination stated, “It is integral for the youth to stay aware of the hazards presented by smoking. Smoking not only impacts the economic sustainability of the Country/Government but also the financial viability of the individual & their families. At a governmental level, we are working towards creating smoke free zones and enabling the quitting smoking process by providing cessation centers. This is a project which we envision to fulfill in the next 5 years which would reduce the economic burden on the government/ the country”
On this occasion, Professor Doctor Mr. Shahzad Ali Khan VC Health Services Academy, addressed the audience on the harmfulness of cigarette smoking “With a vast youth population in Pakistan, who are impressionable by the idols of the media. It is easy to get swayed by for a young mind therefore it is absolutely necessary for the media organizations to be mindful of the message that is being put across to the youth”
Dr. Iffat Zafar Aga closed the session by giving the reassurance from Sehat Kahani to be the platform which works towards creating health education avenues for behaviour change and continue to work collaboratively with the Ministry, HSA, as well as other private sector institutes to reduce the cigarette smoking epidemic in the country.