ISLAMABAD: As the World No Tobacco Day approaches, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) succeeded in getting an assurance from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to run tobacco control messages through national TV channels and radio stations.
An official of the ministry told Dawn that according to Section 20 of the Pemra Ordinance, television channels were bound to allocate 10pc of their airtime for public service messages.
“They are also bound to telecast priority health and social welfare programmes to create awareness. However, a majority of the TV channels do not fulfil their responsibility,” he said.
“It has been decided that ‘sponge campaign spots’ will run on all stations in the lead-up to the World No Tobacco Day on May 31. During this time, it is expected that thousands of TV and radio spots will be aired during primetime and off-peak periods,” he said.
NHS ministry gets assurance from Pemra to air the messages before International No Tobacco Day on 31st
In reply to a question about sponge, he said during the campaign it would be shown with the help of graphs and videos how much quantity of dangerous chemicals were inhaled by a smoker during one year. And then in the video, the heart is compressed like a sponge and the poisonous liquid is poured into a cup.
“The campaign was held a few years ago and after that during a survey it was observed that 25 to 30pc smokers, who watched the video or posters, tried to quit smoking,” he said.
The 30-second advertisement compares a smoker’s lungs with a sponge. It graphically shows how a smoker’s lungs soak up the poisons found in tobacco smoke, which collect in the lungs as a cancer-causing tar.
The advertisement lists the diseases associated with tobacco use and urges smokers to “Quit today!”
Minister NHS Saira Afzal Tarar in a statement said it was a historic moment where the national media networks would be working with the government to raise awareness of critical health issues aimed at reducing the considerable burden of death and disease caused by tobacco which results in high rates of cancers, heart diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, diabetes and strokes.
The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2014 found that 31.8pc of adult men and 5.8pc of women use tobacco in any form; 22.2pc of men and 2.1pc of women currently smoke tobacco.
While nearly 88pc of smokers believe that smoking causes serious illness, only a quarter (24.7pc) had tried to quit in the past year and only 22.3pc planned to or were thinking about quitting.
According to the Tobacco Atlas, tobacco use is the cause of 12.2pc of deaths among men and 4.5pc of deaths among women, killing over 2,000 Pakistanis every week.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2017