Chest physicians criticise tobacco media campaign -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Chest physicians criticise tobacco media campaign

Karachi:The Pakistan Chest Society has strongly criticised the recently launched campaign of a multinational tobacco company in the electronic and pnnt media of the country.

At a meeting of the society held in Karachi Dr. Mosavir Ansari, Chest Physician from Liaquat National Hospital, said that instead of taking measures to control the tobacco epi­demic in the country the industry is trying to tell the public and the gov­emrnent that tobacco is essential for the economy of the country.

Commenting on one of these ads he said that tobacco industry has claimed that it gave Rs 50 million in taxes to the government but these failed to mention that the industry gets back Rs 560 million from the sale of cigarettes in the country every day. Also in return the tobacco industry gives the public over 30 serious diseases. ‘Iherefore, the use of tobacco is not only a huge econonuc loss to the country but also a serious hazard to public health, he added.Quoting a World Bank he said that tobacco is not good for any country’s economy, “in fact it makes a poor country even poorer.”

Prof. Javaid A. Khan, General Secretary of Pakistan Chest Society and a leading chest physician from AKU, said that tobacco is responsible for over 100,000 deaths in the country every year, yet the tobacco companies have been given a free hand by the government to promote this powerful addictive substance in the country by advertising.

Such ads have been banned not only in the Western world but also in our neighbouring countries like India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Dr. I.S. Burki, Editor-in-Chief, Paldstan Journal of Chest. Medicine, said that tobacco is the single most important cause of indoor environmental pollution in the country but a tobacco company is claiming that it is working for improving the environment of the country by plantingtrees. According to estimates over 70 percent of children in Pakistan get exposed to envirornmmental tobacco smoke everyday, as a result of which there has been a sharp rise in respiratory diseases in the paediatric age group in the country, he explained.

Commenting on the recently announced smoking prohibition in the country, Dr. Nadeem Rizvi, Head Department of Chest Diseases, JPMC, said that no practical steps had been taken by the government to implement this ordinance. He warned that because of rise in smoking prevalence in the country chest physicians all over Pakistan are seeing increasing rumber of lung cancer, emphysema and chronic bronchitis cases.

Dr. Zafaryab Hussain, a chest physician from KV Site Hospital, said that compared to the meagre amount of revenue generated from the sales tax on tobacco over Rs 1,000 “million are spent every day by the public on the treatment of diseases caused by tobacco use. It does not make any sense in promoting tobacco use in ihe country, he added.

Prof. Siraj-ud-dullah of the Cancer Society said that lung and mouth cancers are the two leading causes of cancer deaths in the country and over 90 percent of these cancers are directly caused by tobacco.

Dr. Nisar Rao, a chest physician from Ojha Institute of Chest Diseases, said that it is an irony on the one hand millions of people are suffeing in the hospital because of tobacco related diseases and on the other tobacco industry is claiming to be working for the health of the nation by opening so-called mobile dispensaries.Pakistan Chest Society has urged the government to sign the UN frame work convention on tobacco control as soon as possible and put a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising in the country.-PR

Source: Business Recorder
Date:12/17/2003