In Order To Help Quit Cigarettes, Alternatives To Cigarettes Should Be Readily Available To Smokers In Pakistan.
86% of Pakistani smokers who wanted to quit cigarettes were unsuccessful despite repeated attempts, reveals an opinion survey conducted in major cities across the country. 95% of these Pakistanis, however, told us that switching to alternatives allowed them to quit the harmful habit of smoking. At a ceremony held in Islamabad, sharing details of the survey with media, Mirza M. Abeer, founder and CEO of ASAP, believes the best option is for smokers to quit, but the majority of smokers who cannot quit should at least move to safer alternatives such as e-cigarettes or heated tobacco products.
The survey was commissioned by the Association for Smoking Alternatives Pakistan (ASAP) and conducted by Foresight Research with over 600 smokers and users of alternatives to help understand consumer perceptions about cigarette alternatives in the country. The research was a component of ASAP’s anti-smoking campaign launched in early November to get 1 million Pakistanis to quit cigarettes. “This would help a lot in reducing the number of smokers in the country,” he remarked
The survey asked the participants about the reasons for quitting and all of them highlighted that better health is one of the primary reasons for switching away from cigarettes, and 98 percent of the participants believed their health has improved as a result of switching. The survey also covered the government’s role, where 82 percent of participants believed the harm caused by cigarette smoking is a public health crisis in Pakistan, and 80 percent believed the use of alternatives to cigarette smoking can help quit cigarettes in the country.
About 89 percent of the participants were of the view that in order to help quit cigarettes, alternatives to cigarettes should be readily available to smokers in Pakistan. The survey also revealed that 86 percent indicated lack of awareness about the benefits of these alternatives as the major cause. Lastly, 89 percent of participants also understood that the government should encourage existing users who do not quit cigarettes to at least switch to safer alternatives.
Mirza M. Abeer, a lawyer by profession, has founded the largest online community of smokers turned alternative users in Pakistan. His efforts take inspiration from the UK government’s policies that encourage alternatives to cigarettes to reduce the country’s smoking rates. ASAP dreams of a day that Pakistan government would implement similar policies and create space for smokers who are unable to quit.