Press Release details
Easy availability of tobacco products raises eyebrows
RAWALPINDI: The Sustainable Social Development Organisation (SSDO), a non-governmental research-based advocacy organisation, has raised concerns over the sale of novel tobacco products including Velo and e-cigarettes in the market.
“The younger generation is significantly drawn towards these products, which is a matter of great concern for parents as these products are even being consumed inside educational institutions,” SSDO Executive Director Syed Kausar Abbas said during a capacity-building session. The session was held by the SSDO to raise awareness among journalists in electronic and print media regarding the hazards associated with the consumption of e-cigarettes and tobacco products.
“It is crucial for federal and provincial authorities to categorise novel tobacco products as addictive substances and enforce an immediate ban,” he said.
Journalists from Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Multan and Lahore participated in the training workshop. On the occasion, Sophia Mansoori from CTFC gave a presentation on Novel Tobacco Products and their impact, whereas Programme Manager SSDO Khurram Malik gave a presentation on the role of media in novel product control.
The SSDO executive director said that electronic and novel tobacco products such as Velo are not currently manufactured domestically and health-related institutions lack awareness about their associated risks.
Additionally, he emphasised the importance of preventing the sale of these products in close proximity to universities, colleges, and educational institutions, as well as their display in marts and departmental stores.
Furthermore, he stressed the significance of parental vigilance towards their children, urging them to thoroughly inspect their belongings upon their return from educational institutions to ensure they do not carry or consume any such addictive substance. He further highlighted that according to data from international organisations, the number of smokers in the country has exceeded 24 million.
During the workshop, Sofia Mansoori from CTFC informed the attendees that although official or unofficial data on the utilization of novel tobacco products are currently unavailable, our preliminary research indicates that in Pakistan, approximately 1,200 children aged 12 to 18 years are exposed to such products on a daily basis. This exposure primarily stems from the easy accessibility of Velo, e-cigarettes, and other novel tobacco products in local streets and neighbourhood markets, she added.
In the end, she said that the annual healthcare burden resulting from tobacco consumption in Pakistan amounts to Rs615 billion. It was emphasized that intervention is crucial at this stage, involving various stakeholders such as the media, parents, and both federal and provincial parliaments.
At the culmination of the training workshop, Abbas and Mansoori presented certificates to the participating journalists.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2023.