ISLAMABAD, Sep 25 (APP): Health activists on Monday expressed concern over the decision by the previous Cabinet to regularize Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs) through a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO).
They urged the Minister of Health to inquire about the serious matter of regularization of HTPs which are now openly sold everywhere in Pakistan, according to a press release issued by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC).
Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, “The decision to regularize HTPs is a grave threat to our public health goals, particularly with regard to our youth.
These products have been legalized without conducting any cost-benefit or risk analysis survey to easily direct children and youth towards using these. HTPs are not only highly addictive but also expose users, including our children, to a dangerous cocktail of harmful chemicals and carcinogens.
We cannot afford to compromise the health of our citizens, especially our younger generation by allowing these detrimental products into the market. It is our moral duty to protect our children from the predatory tactics of the tobacco industry, which seeks to profit at the expense of our nation’s well-being.”
Dr Ziauddin Islam, Former Technical Head of the Tobacco Control Cell at the Ministry of Health, stressed the importance of evidence-based decision-making, saying, “The evidence is clear and unequivocal: HTPs are not a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.
Their consumption leads to addiction and a wide array of serious health issues, including respiratory problems and cardiovascular diseases. As responsible stewards of public health, it is imperative that we act in the best interest of our population’s health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has consistently cautioned against the consumption of HTPs, urging governments worldwide to implement stringent regulations to safeguard their citizens. Pakistan should heed this call and prioritize the health and well-being of its people over any other considerations.”
Khalil Ahmed Dogar, Program Manager at SPARC, underscored the organization’s unwavering commitment to protecting the rights and health of children. He stated, “SPARC remains committed to protecting the rights and health of children.
We call upon the government to reconsider this decision, which can have dire consequences for the well-being of our youth.”
Khalil urged the Health Minister to engage in a comprehensive dialogue with public health experts, civil society organizations, and concerned citizens to ensure that any regulatory measures prioritize the health and well-being of the people of Pakistan.