A promising stride


The recent collaborative effort between the provincial health department and district administration to curb smoking in public places across Peshawar, Abbottabad and select tehsils of Haripur district is a commendable initiative. The call for a comprehensive roadmap, as highlighted in a focused group discussion chaired by key stakeholders, emphasizes the need for diligent implementation of tobacco control measures, with a special focus on creating smoking-free areas. A focused group discussion chaired by provincial director public health, deputy director health, district administration Peshawar and a non-governmental organization calls for a comprehensive roadmap for the implementation of the tobacco control measures, particularly focusing on creating smoking-free areas.
Designating Peshawar, Abbottabad, and specific tehsils of Haripur district as smoking-free zones reflects a commitment to public health. The insistence on strict enforcement within all public spaces underscores the importance of cooperation from law enforcement agencies and administrative bodies. However, to make the entire province smoking-free, we must transcend conventional tobacco control methods. The global push towards declaring tobacco consumption in public places harmful necessitates innovative approaches. Encouraging adult smokers to quit or switch to less harmful options should be at the forefront. Recognizing that nicotine, though addictive, is not carcinogenic, underscores the importance of offering satisfactory alternatives to combustible cigarettes.
Practical steps, such as declaring all government offices smoking-free zones with strict implementation, are crucial for promoting a smoking-free environment. Despite existing laws, smokers continue to light up in offices, public transport, educational institutions, and other public places, disregarding the health and inconvenience of non-smokers. Tobacco use remains a major contributor to oral cancer and poses a significant health risk, particularly with the alarming rise in youth tobacco consumption. The decision to address emerging products signals a proactive stance, highlighting the essential role institutions listed in the roadmap must play in combating tobacco use.
In other words, every effort should be made to facilitate adult smokers to quit smoking or switch to less harmful options. Nicotine is addictive, but not carcinogenic, whereas tar and other toxic chemicals in a combustible cigarette’s smoke cause disease and death. If the adult smokers can be provided satisfactory alternatives to cigarettes, they would avoid risking their health and life so blatantly. A decision to address the challenge of emerging tobacco products and a reminder of the significant role that all institutions listed in the roadmap must play in combating tobacco use.
While it’s noteworthy that the provincial health department established a Tobacco Control Cell in 2013, its effective implementation remains a challenge. To realize the vision of a smoking-free Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, concerted efforts are needed to bridge the gap between policy and execution, ensuring that the health and well-being of the population take precedence over harmful habits.