Muhammad QasimThe Islamabad Medical & Dental College Friday organised a seminar to mark World No Tobacco Day with a primary objective of creating awareness among youth, students and general public about tobacco hazards and various techniques of smoking cessation.
IMDC Chairman Dr Ghulam Akbar Khan Niazi was the chief guest on the occasion wherein eminent medical professionals highlighted the importance of the day and delivered lectures on epidemiology of smoking, health hazards of tobacco smoke, various smoking cessation techniques and rules and regulations regarding tobacco control in Pakistan. The World No Tobacco Day is observed every year on May 31.
The theme of the seminar was ‘Tobacco-Free Youth’. A good number of students and people from different walks of life attended the seminar to improve understanding on health hazards of tobacco smoking, anti-smoking laws and various smoking cessation techniques.
Speakers of the seminar included Professor Dr Alam Shah, Dr Shahzad Ali Khan, Professor Dr Muhammad Ashraf Chaudhry, Dr Talib Lashari and Dr Aziz Bangash from tobacco control cell of Ministry of Health.
Speaking on the occasion, Professor of Medicine at IMDC Dr Alam Shah highlighted the health hazards of tobacco smoking such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases (heart disease, stroke etc.), respiratory diseases such as lung cancer, bronchitis, emphysema and impotence among males and infertility, premature births, abortions and low birth weight babies among female smokers.
He briefed the audience that there are 4,000 poisonous chemicals in tobacco smoke. Of these, most important are nicotine (an addictive substance), tar (carcinogen) and carbon monoxide, which damage the lining of blood vessels, deposits cholesterol and plaque in blood vessels and reduces the blood flow to the heart.
Dr Shahzad Ali discussed the epidemiology of smoking in Pakistan. He said that there are about 30 million smokers in Pakistan of which 37% are male while 9% female.
“Smoking among students of schools, colleges and universities is on the rise and at present, 28% of the students are smokers in Pakistan,” he said and added that according to an estimate, 1,600 youngsters between the age of 15 and 19 years take up this habit every day in Pakistan. “About 100,000 people every year die in Pakistan due to diseases related to tobacco smoking.” Head of Community Medicine at IMDC Professor Dr Muhammad Ashraf Chaudhry narrated various smoking cessation techniques such as cold turkey/will power, tapering or nicotine fading, Nicotine Replacement Therapy (Nicotine gum, patches, nasal spray, oral inhaler etc), contracting, incentives, penalties, doctor’s advice & quit lines.
He said cessation of smoking depends upon the will power, determination of a person. “If after thorough thinking, a smoker decides to stop smoking and stops it abruptly, he can get rid of it,” he said.
He advised that smoking cessation may be done preferably in the month of ‘Ramadan’ in which we are blessed with strong spiritual and physical will power to correct ourselves. “First of Ramadan should be celebrated as ‘National Quit Smoking Day,’ he suggested.
He said that nicotine replacement therapy also reduces restlessness and desire for cigarette. “Nicotine replacement therapy however is expensive but quit rates are high as compared to other techniques.” Nicotine replacement therapies include nicotine gum, nicotine nasal spray, nicotinel inhalers, nicotine patches, nicotine lozenges, stop smoking pills and smoke away (mouth spray).
Dr Talib Lahsari discussed the rules and regulations related to tobacco control such as WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control and Pakistan Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance 2002.
He said that according to the ordinance, smoking is prohibited in enclosed public places, enclosed work places and public transport. There is also restriction to store and sell cigarettes within 50 meters of educational institutions and sale to under 18 years of age. He said the Ordinance is there but there is no effective implementation of it in the country. “According to this Ordinance, there is Rs1000 fine on first violation which may go up to Rs100,000 on subsequent violations along with three-month imprisonment. But up to this date, no one has fined nor has any case been registered against any violator in Pakistan, which is very unfortunate.” Shahzad Alam Khan representing the WHO in the seminar discussed the Global Youth Survey on Tobacco smoking.
An essay writing competition of students on the topic ‘Tobacco-Free Youth’ was also held and first four position holders spoke on the subject in the seminar. In the end, souvenirs and certificates were distributed among participants.