ISLAMABAD: Society for the Protection of the Rights of Child (SPARC) organized an interactive session with social media influencers to address the need to ban the online sale and advertisement of emerging tobacco products.
The speakers emphasized that tobacco industry has been manipulating our children and youth into buying novel tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, nicotine pouches and heated tobacco products, through various marketing tactics on social media.
Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), shared his concerns that tobacco industry is using advanced strategies to introduce markets with emerging nicotine and tobacco products. By presenting concepts of healthier alternatives to smoking, tobacco industry has entered local markets alongside online sale and promotion.
The tobacco industry is misleading everyone by claiming that novel tobacco products are less harmful and only for smokers who want to quit. However these products are openly promoted online and sold to young and new consumers.
This shows that these products are not a healthier alternative but a tool to bring in new consumers without any regards for the damage they can cause to the health of children and adolescents.
Dr. Ziauddin Islam, Country Lead Vital Strategies; Former Technical Head, Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of NHSR&C; Former Technical focal Person of Govt. of Pakistan for WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC); said that tobacco industry is polluting the country with the online sale and advertisement of emerging products, which shows that we need to ban the online sale and advertisement of emerging tobacco products in the Pakistan.
He mentioned that around 31 million Pakistanis consume tobacco and introducing new products will further increase this number. Social media is also being used to increase the number of tobacco users as online platform is open for tobacco industry to promote sale and advertisement of harmful emerging products.
Khalil Ahmed Dogar, Program Manager, SPARC, said that novel tobacco products such as nicotine pouches, e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products are all readily available for online purchase due to weaker policies regarding online advertisement and sale.
Khalil requested government recognize this situation as a child rights emergency as it will directly hurt their health, education and future development.
It is responsibility of policymakers to ensure that no anti-child policy is implemented in the country. Government must ban all kinds of advertisements and sale of such harmful products especially online presence of these products because social media is a huge platform of influence for younger Pakistanis.