Islamabad: Participants of the Panthr group during a meeting. (ENNS)
ISLAMABAD (ENNS) Pakistan Alliance for Nicotine and Tobacco Harm Reduction (PANTHR) has called for including smokers and stakeholders working on harm reduction in consultation on tobacco control.
“We support the efforts for tobacco control in Pakistan. We strongly back a smoke free Pakistan. However, we believe that the scope of the consultation should be wider and inclusive,” said Kashif Farooqi, PANTHR’s Manager Advocacy.
PANTHR is an initiative aimed at promoting alternative solutions for smoking cessation, including the harm reduction products (HRPs). Overwhelming evidence points towards HRPs as game changers for smokers trying to quit. Smoking rates have come down in countries where smokers started using HRPs, including the UK, Japan and Sweden.
While remaining committed to and supporting tobacco control efforts in Pakistan, especially Article 14 of FCTC, the alliance serves as a platform for advocating and promoting the use of innovative alternatives such as safe nicotine delivery systems and harm reduction.
Farooqi said that in the tobacco control efforts in Pakistan, no members from the smokers’ community and those working on harm reduction were being engaged.
He further said that smokers’ views had always been ignored in Pakistan. “As the main beneficiaries, smokers’ voice should be heard loud and clear.”
He added that smoking cessation remains a missing link in Pakistan’s tobacco control efforts. “The successful quitting rate in Pakistan is less than 3%. If we really want to make Pakistan tobacco free, we have to concentrate on cessation.”
Farooqi said the tobacco control emphasis should shift from prevention to cessation. “Further, there is a need for separating harm reduction from the tobacco industry.”
He said PANTHR is an all-inclusive alliance of organizations and individuals who are committed to a tobacco free Pakistan. “In UK, Japan, Sweden and New Zealand, harm reduction and safer nicotine delivery systems have helped in significantly reducing rates.