Harms of Addictive Nicotine Products exposed by SPARC

The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) organized a pivotal seminar at a Local Hotel in Islamabad, unraveling the misleading narrative peddled by the tobacco industry about the purportedly “less harmful” nature of nicotine products. The event showcased insightful discussions from distinguished speakers, each contributing profound insights into this critical public health issue, particularly as it pertains to Pakistan.

Mr. Muhammad Ali Saif, Former Member of the Senate of Pakistan, passionately underscored the role of policymakers in safeguarding Pakistani citizens. “Safeguarding our people from the harms of nicotine products demands not just attention but concrete legislative measures tailored to our cultural and social context. All political parties should leave their differences aside when it comes to public health, especially that of children. Everyone must stand united against the tobacco industry.”

Dr. Maheen Malik, Director Tobacco Control South Asia Region-CTFK, emphasized the significance of sustained efforts within the specific challenges faced in Pakistan. “A holistic and long-term approach is essential to counter the nuanced threat posed by new nicotine products within our unique cultural and social landscape. CTFK is committed that, with the support of its partners, it will keep countering the efforts of the tobacco industry to derail Pakistan’s health and economy.”

Dr. Ziauddin Islam, Former Technical Head, Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of Health, offered an in-depth exploration of traditional and new types of nicotine products. “The myth of ‘less’ harm has been meticulously dispelled, exposing the specific health threats these products pose for both adults and children in the Pakistani context. The so-called ‘less harm’ is enough to cause serious risks to the physical and mental health of consumers.”

Mr. Malik Imran Ahmad, Country Head, CTFK Media and New Nicotine Products, shared insights from the field, stating, “Our scrutiny uncovered the target audience of these products. Evidence from the field has exposed that the tobacco industry claimed that new nicotine products are alternatives for adult smokers to quit cigarettes. Instead, they are products launched towards youth and non-smokers to get them addicted and reap profits from them too.”

Mr. Shariq Mehmood Khan, CEO Chromatic Trust, highlighted the tobacco industry’s significant investment in electronic and social media campaigns. “The tobacco industry has spent significant amounts of money on electronic and social media campaigns to ensure that products reach out to youth and new users. Celebrities and influencers must not become part of such campaigns, as their influence can inadvertently contribute to the endorsement of harmful products within our society.”

Dr. Khalil Ahmad Dogar, Program Manager at SPARC, emphasized the paramount importance of protecting the health and development of children and youth in Pakistan. “Children and youth are Pakistan’s present and future. Their health and development are crucial for our country’s survival, and as such, it should be our collective responsibility to protect them from the adverse effects of nicotine products. Immediate and concerted action is imperative.”

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