Breaking the habit in Pakistan

Transitioning to a smoke-free nation is crucial for improving overall health outcomes in Pakistan. Despite efforts to reduce smoking rates, challenges persist, making innovative Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) strategies necessary.

Implementing a blanket ban on smoking may seem straightforward but could lead to increased illicit trade and underground markets. However, THR products available in the market, such as oral nicotine pouches, offer smokers a less harmful alternative, by reducing exposure to hazardous chemicals while satisfying nicotine cravings.

Sweden exemplifies tobacco control efforts, by reducing smoking rates from 15% to 5.6% over the past 15 years. Inspired by Sweden’s success, strategies for Pakistan must be tailored to address cultural and socioeconomic factors while prioritizing harm reduction and promoting smoke-free environments. Implementing strict smoke-free laws is essential for indoor public spaces, workplaces, and public transportation.

Nationwide campaigns using traditional and digital media, including TV, radio, social media, websites, and mobile apps, are crucial for educating the public on the health risks of smoking and the benefits of smoke-free lifestyles. Publishing evidence-based, culturally sensitive, and engaging content can empower smokers to make informed decisions in adopting harm reduction strategies.

Moreover, government should allocate resources for enforcing, monitoring, and evaluating smoke-free laws and THR products. Regular assessment and addressing challenges are crucial for sustaining momentum and achieving long-term success in fostering a smoke-free future and improving public health.

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