KARACHI-Pakistan observing Friday as No Tobacco Day 2019, dedicated to “Lung Health,” is among the worst affected countries in terms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) caused due to tobacco smoking.

Available statistics reveal that COPD may emerge to be the third leading cause of death in the country by 2020 with around three million people estimated to have died of the disease in 2017-18.

The updated “Tobacco Fact Sheet” of the country reveals that 160,000 people lose their lives every year due to tobacco consumption in one or the other form. Despite the fact that series of laws have been adopted, over the years, to control smoking and consumption of smokeless tobacco yet 21% of adult males and two percent women are registered to be the daily smokers.

Around 125,000 children (10-14 years) are also reported to be indulged in smoking while over 50 million people traveling in public transport, 21 million visiting restaurants, 17 million working indoor do get exposed to passive or second-hand smoking everyday.

Moreover, around 10 million resort to smokeless tobacco everyday further aggravating the deteriorating health status of the masses with severe implications on human resource consequently turning the economic cost of tobacco consumption to Rs143 billion annually.

Chairman, National Alliance for Tobacco Control (NATC), Prof Javaid Khan commenting on the situation said that human consumption of tobacco (active or passive/ direct or indirect) is contributory not only to lung diseases but equally responsible for different categories of cancer, cardio-vascular diseases, infections with established impact on foetus of expecting women exposed to smoking as active or passive smokers.“

The scenario is a stark reminder for all of us that we are lagging behind the rest of the world in our Tobacco control efforts, he said. Dr. Khan reminding that no less than 160,000 lives are lost in Pakistan due to tobacco smoking and chewing in one or the other form, he said this must not be unacceptable to anyone at any level.

Regretting that tobacco is still accepted as a norm in the society, he said significant cost, societal and quality of life benefits could be achieved if greater steps were taken to combat the menace of tobacco consumption at every level.