By Hamid Khan Wazir
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: A delegation of 8-10 young kids called on the Minister of Health Dr. Faisal Sultan and presented him with some of the postcards. These postcards are a part of the distinctive health-campaign, “Postcards for Tobacco-Free Youth” in Pakistan by the pioneering, “Chromatic” Trust.
In this competition, more than 350 young people participated from across the country, sharing their digital designs for postcards capturing messages for a Tobacco-Free Pakistan in this month-long campaign.
The children requested the minister to help them take these postcards to Prime Minister Imran Khan to protect youth from this rampant tobacco epidemic by implementing stricter Tobacco Control policies.
A recently published study, by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, estimates that the total health cost of Tobacco-related diseases is approximately Rs 615 billion. The youth is far more vulnerable to tobacco addiction that also leads to a loss in productivity. A WHO survey has revealed that over 1200 kids between 6 and 15 years of age, start smoking in Pakistan on a daily basis. These are extremely alarming and worrisome statistics that mandate immediate counter measures, like Tax Increases on tobacco products, which has the immense potential of drastically reducing these numbers.
The participants of the postcard campaign also sent a clear message that the inclusion of 438,000 children per year among tobacco consumers is categorically, unacceptable.
The CEO Chromatic Shariq Mahmood Khan briefed the health minister about how this month-long campaign allowed Chromatic to look into the wonderful and creative minds of our youth.
Shariq Mahmood said “In a country with a majority of young population, it is unacceptable to have a Tobacco Industry that targets young kids in order to make them replacement costumers. This competition was a shining representation of the true voices of our youth and was aimed towards creating awareness, regarding the menace of the Tobacco mafia.
Shariq Khan also said that, we as a country, have a duty to protect our children from this poisonous addiction.
Dr Faisal Sultan thanked Chromatic Trust for their national-level initiative and said that he would spare no efforts to protect these children.
The health minister also added that he has a firm belief in youth-empowerment and in providing them with a healthy environment where they can thrive and cultivate their true potential, to the maximum.