Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) Expressing grave concern over the increasing number of smokers in the country, a nation-wide drive has been launched to educate Pakistanis on the need to quit cigarettes.
The campaign, launched by Association for Smoking Alternatives Pakistan (ASAP), plans to use digital platforms to provide smokers in Pakistan with counselling and support that can help remove cigarettes from the lives of one million smokers.
Inspired by UK Government’s long running STOPtober Campaign focused on making smokers in United Kingdom to quit smoking during the month of October, the ASAP aims to replicate the learning and results of the campaign in Pakistan for the benefit of public health.
“Almost all smokers today understand the risks associated with cigarettes but continue to use them until they fall prey to cardiovascular diseases, cancer or other diseases associated with cigarette use. It is the role of organizations like ASAP and regulatory authorities to make people quit cigarettes, right now,” Abeer Mirza, founder and CEO of ASAP, told media here.
He added that ASAP supports tobacco control policies and measures taken by the government, however, cigarette use statistics over the past decade show these have not achieved the desired result.
Fresh data reveals that despite a reduction in global smoking rates, the absolute number of smokers is still beyond one billion, with over 80 per cent found in low and middle income countries, owing to greater public health costs.
In a country with over 15.6 million cigarette smokers, Pakistan is in dire need of innovative solutions to help curb the public health impact of cigarettes. ASAP through this campaign aims to create awareness on better solutions that have been successful in other countries like UK, Europe and Japan.
ASAP is a coalition of like-minded individuals, advocating the adoption of scientifically substantiated smoking alternatives amongst existing adult smokers and policy makers to help significantly reduce smoking rates in Pakistan.