ISLAMABAD: Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar on Wednesday informed Senate that Pakistan was ranked 54th amongst 84 countries with high prevalence of tobacco smoking.
Replying to a question during the question hour, the minister said almost 24 million (19.1%) adults consumed tobacco in some form in the country. 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 being admitted to the hospitals every day because of the diseases caused by tobacco use (Pakistan Health Education Survey, 1999), she said.
She said in Pakistan, tobacco was a cause of death of around 160,189 persons every year. Moreover, the economic cost of smoking amounted to 143.208 billion rupees, she said.
The minister said early detection and treatment of the 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 caused by tobacco use, she said.
She said to increase awareness among masses, the ministry had taken various steps including national mass media campaigns on tobacco control with the assistance of World Lung Foundation and 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.