New tobacco products are getting more and more popular among Pakistani youth as a result of the tobacco industry’s aggressive social media marketing and advertising initiatives. If the government does not outlaw these allegedly “less” hazardous products, Pakistan’s healthcare system will sustain devastation that has never before occurred.
In a joint press release, published by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc), health professionals expressed these views in an effort to draw the federal cabinet’s attention to the alarming rise in the use of nicotine pouches, e-cigarettes, and vapes—collectively known as novel or alternative products.
Malik Imran Ahmed, country director for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, claimed that because Pakistan’s tobacco control only extended to cigarettes and gutka, tobacco businesses were free to openly market and sell substitute products.
“The alternative products have been on the Pakistani market for a while, but there hasn’t been a policy or legislation to control and monitor their sales, promotion, and advertisement,” he said, adding that the claim that they were “less” harmful was a big lie because each year approximately 170,000 precious lives were lost in Pakistan as a result of tobacco-induced diseases like cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular disease.
Therefore, even if we buy into the myth that substitute items are ‘less’ hazardous, the harm would still be great, Mr. Ahmed stated.
The tobacco industry is looking for a new generation of consumers to keep their company and profits rolling, according to Sparc Programme Manager Khalil Ahmed Dogar.
He claimed that “the deceptive campaigns are targeted at children and youth through social media platforms and sales near educational institutions,” adding that if these initiatives by the tobacco industry to attract more customers are not restrained by appropriate mechanisms, they will become more powerful and continue to be the cause of deaths and illnesses.
According to Shariq Ahmed, CEO of Chromatic Trust, tobacco firms are spending a lot of money on social media advertising online.
“The adverts are made in such a misleading way that even well-known celebrities participate. A state-level campaign is required to increase public knowledge of the negative effects of tobacco products on the environment and the public economy, as well as the dangers of nicotine and passive smoking.