Pakistanis are increasingly exposed to second-hand cigarette smoke, especially in the workplace or at home. In the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey for 2012-2013, 39.1% of the respondents reported being exposed to indoor cigarette smoke every day. Second-hand smoke is the fourth leading cause of disability and death in Pakistan; in 2017 alone, it caused 33,524 deaths – 2.37% of the nation’s total deaths.
It’s not necessary to smoke a cigarette yourself to suffer from its adverse consequences on health. Keeping in mind its numerous health effects, avoiding second hand smoke is increasingly becoming a public concern as well as a basic human right. This is why many countries, including Pakistan, have attempted to enact laws that prohibit cigarettes from being lit in public spaces.
The cigarette alternatives being adopted worldwide have been designed to limit the harmful impacts of choosing to smoke. With the potential to positively impact countless lives, they present smokers with less risk of harm through science-backed smoke-free alternatives.
Scientists around the world have shifted their focus on less harmful alternatives that smokers can replace cigarettes with as a first step to reducing risks. Countries like Japan, UK, Sweden, Norway, to name a few, have taken up the responsibility to reduce the number of smokers by legalising Heated-Tobacco-Products (HTP) and adopting less harmful strategies nationwide. These countries are already seeing a great decline in their numbers of smokers, and perhaps, Pakistan’s population could take a page out of their notebooks.