The Institute for Global Tobacco Control, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is pleased to announce the launch of a new free online course on tobacco control, Learning from the Experts: A Course for Healthcare Professionals. The course can be accessed via the link:http://hp.globaltobaccocontrol.org/online_training.
The course will prepare healthcare professionals to promote tobacco control efforts within their communities and beyond.This course is free, designed specifically for the health professional, and is available in 8 languages including English, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese and French. Also, participants who complete this 3-hour long training will obtain a certificate of completion from the Johns Hopkins University.
Tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death in the world. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that this year tobacco will kill more than 5 million people in the world. This number is greater than the death caused by HIV/ AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis collectively. This means an average of one person dies every six seconds and this accounts for one in 10 adult deaths worldwide. Tobacco caused 100 million deaths in 20th century and if the current trend continues, WHO estimates that there will be 1 billion deaths in 21st century due to the usage of tobacco.
Presently, there are more than one billion smokers worldwide. Globally, the use of tobacco product is increasing at an alarming rate and its main concentration is in developing world. More than 80 percent of the world smokers live in low and middle income countries.
Tobacco companies, today, are using innovative marketing and advertisement techniques to allure new market. One example is the use of catchy nomenclature like ‘light’, ‘mild’ and ‘low in tar’. Unfortunately, under the influence of advertising most people think that light cigarettes are less harmful. A survey conducted by CWP shows that more than 55 percent of respondents consider that light cigarettes cause less damage to health than ordinary cigarettes. Moreover, this illusion is much more popular among smokers as 69 percent of smokers agree with this statement. International scientific data, however, showed that light cigarettes are not less harmful than other types and they are as addictive as ordinary cigarettes. The usage of such terms as “light cigarettes” or “cigarettes with low tar content” and other deluding statements is banned in 46 countries. Among these countries are EU, China, India, Iran, Turkey, Thailand, Israel, Canada, Australia, Norway, Switzerland, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Uruguay, Chili and Panama. Armenia and Ukraine have also introduced the ban on the usage of the term “light”. CWP has urged the government authorities to follow the example.
Under the circumstances, there is a need for strict ban on the advertisement of tobacco products. This ban should not only be enforced on print and electronic media but also on bill-boards and poster and wall chalking. The industry is constantly trying that its products are highly visible in movies, on television and in fashion world. To stop this, Films and TV plays glamorizing smoking should be censured strictly. The industry has numerous innovative ways of targeting youth and partial ban on advertisement is no solution. The ban should be comprehensive and universal. Pakistan has already witnessed the trend on increasing number of women and youth responding to such advertisements.
Although Pakistan has laws which discourage the sale of tobacco products to youth and smoking in public places but these laws are far from their full implementation. For example, article 8 of the Prohibition of Smoking in Enclosed Places and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance, 2002 states that “no person shall sell cigarettes, or any other such smoking substance to any who is below the age of eighteen years.” If this single most important clause is implemented in letter and spirit, the threat to younger generation could have been reduced to a great extent. Similarly, the Punjab Tobacco Vend Act 1958 clearly states that “no person who does not grow tobacco himself or with the aid of the members of his family or by tenants or hired labor shall keep for retail sale or sell by retail manufactured tobacco in any urban area without a dealer’s license.” How many retailers are selling tobacco with the license issued by the government is an open secret.