Call for grass-root smoking cessation services across Pakistan

Call for grass-root smoking cessation services across Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The federal and provincial governments have been urged to ensure the provision of effective and accessible cessation services for adult smokers down to district, tehsil, and union council levels across Pakistan by anti-smoking activists.

The demand has been made by the Alternative Research Initiative (ARI) and its partners.

“Adult smokers who have been unable to quit smoking need a helping hand. Helping them quit is critical to ending combustible smoking in Pakistan,” says Arshad Ali Syed, Project Director of ARI, in a statement on World No Tobacco Day (WNTD).

Mr Syed stressed the need for extensive publicity and bringing significant improvements to the national quit line services.

In this connection, he highlighted the role of provincial governments in providing cessation services at the district level. “After the 18th amendment, health is a provincial subject. Provincial governments should reach adult smokers in districts, tehsils, and union councils, especially those who have been unable to quit despite multiple attempts,” he adds.

The benefits of quitting smoking are immediate and lifelong. According to WHO, within 20 minutes of cessation, heart rate and blood pressure drop, and after 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in blood returns to normal. In 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease, and the risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker's within a year. The risk of stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.