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Looking at what drives children, women and men towards smoking tobacco and how smokers decide to quit

Graphic by Naseem ur Rehman

Tobacco is a reality the world has learnt to live with it seems. Knowing how dangerous it is for health and in the face of international laws and conventions on tobacco control.

A recent news item saying that members of the Senate’s standing committee on national health services were not in favour of a bill for banning tobacco advertisements shows the issue is not as simple. With statistics claiming that almost 300 people die in Pakistan every day due to tobacco use, about 1200 children between the age of 6-15 start smoking every day and almost 24 million adults currently use tobacco, the law makers chose to show more sympathy with tobacco companies, growers and retailers instead. Why?

Clearly something is wrong somewhere.

The supply side, starting from the growers to retailers to tobacco companies, in that particular order, does have a clear case for bringing some kind of benefit: from being self-beneficial at the level of growers to being good for the country’s economy. The industry is said to add Rs135billion in revenue to the national kitty every year.

Read also: The tobacco fight

With figures like these, those who aim at tobacco control seem to be fighting a lost cause. Yet, they don’t tire of trying — their efforts range from implementing national laws and international treaties to improving awareness and protecting people by warning them of the dangers of tobacco use.

Away from the industry’s interest and the policy-making stand the ordinary tobacco user as well as the quitter. In today’s Special Report we have tried to talk to these underage children, women and men in general, to figure out what drove them towards tobacco. We also have stories of those who decided to quit. There are many stakeholders who are still out of the debate. The tobacco fight is on.


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