Tobacco is the largest silent killer in Pakistan as 160,189 people die every year. That means 438 people die every day due to tobacco use.
This was disclosed during a meeting of the National Assembly’s Special Committee on Agriculture Products in Islamabad on Wednesday.
The economic cost of smoking in Pakistan is more than Rs143 billion, according to an official document. In Pakistan two in five smokers initiated cigarette smoking before the age of 10 according to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey 2013.
“In Pakistan people smoke cigarettes despite health related warnings. We need to increase tobacco exports to earn foreign exchange, ” Sahibzada Mahboob Sultan, federal minister for national food security, told SAMAA TV.
He said the government will protect every farmer, including tobacco growers, in order to increase agriculture production.
Syed Fakhar Imam, another member of the committee, was of the view that the government should launch a campaign to discourage smoking. The government may have limitations to control the use of tobacco, mainly because there is huge revenue involved in this sector, he added.
Tuberculosis is the second greatest cause of death in Pakistan and 60,000 deaths from tuberculosis are registered annually, according to the sixth edition of the Tobacco Atlas, which is published by the World Lung Foundation.
Deaths from malaria remained 5,000 annually while deaths from terrorism are registered at 4,361 per year. The terrorism data was compiled between 2003 and 2015.
HIV/AIDS is the fifth largest reason of death in Pakistan and claims around 1,480 lives every year.