Smoking, a curse: Its effects on human health and economy

Modern scientific researches in the field of medical science have proved that smoking, betel quid, snuff, and other such intoxicants cause many deadly diseases such as cancer, asthma, and tuberculosis (TB). Due to their harmful health effects, their use is also prohibited by Sharia.

There is a clear command from Almighty Allah in the Holy Quran, “And do not throw yourselves into destruction with your own hands, and do good. Indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 195)

There is poison that has immediate effect and there is poison that kills a person gradually. The latter is called Slow Poison, and both have the same rulings and are haram according to Sharia. Smoking can be counted in the category of Slow Poison, which gradually kills a person. No one can deny the deadly effects of smoking. Allah Almighty forbids a person to kill himself intentionally. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And do not kill yourselves. Verily, Allah is Most Merciful to you.” (Al-Nisa, 4:29).

In the light of the commandments of Allah Almighty and the teachings of the Prophet (S.A.W.), it is haram to use anything that is harmful to human health, as smoking causes physical, financial, and psychological harm. The smoke contains about 7,000 different chemicals, of which about two hundred and fifty have been found to be extremely harmful to human health and more than fifty chemicals that can cause cancer. Tobacco smoke hardens blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Tobacco smoke contains carbon monoxide which causes a lack of oxygen in the blood. Smoking spreads fifteen different types of diseases, with lung cancer on top of the list. About 90% of people with lung disease are affected by smoking.

40% of male patients who visit hospitals across the country suffer from various kinds of cancers caused by smoking. The second most common type of cancer in Pakistan is oral cancer. The biggest cause of this is smoking. Similarly, smoking can cause cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, stomach, liver, bladder, pancreas, and kidney. All forms of smoking, including cigarettes, cigars, hookah, pipe, and tobacco products such as betel quid, kreteks, sniffing tobacco etc. are all dangerous to human health.

In our society, there is a lack of awareness about the dangers of smoking, so it is important to launch an effective anti-smoking campaign that includes the government, the public, the media, the business community, school, college, and university students. The school curriculum should include articles on the harms of smoking and other social evils so that children are aware of this important information from an early age and can force their parents, relatives, and neighbors to quit this habit.

According to a survey, 19% of Pakistan’s 220 million population starts using tobacco at the age of 18. The smoking rate is reported to be 32% in men and 5.7% in women. Children start using tobacco before adolescence. The use of cigarettes in Pakistan increases the burden on the economy and the health sector.

According to the World Health Organization, there are 44 million children worldwide between the ages of 13 and 15 who smoke. A large number of children are also using electrical cigarettes.

In Pakistan, the habit of smoking kills 163,000 people every year, while the cost of treatment for diseases caused by smoking and the subsequent damage costs the country millions of rupees.

Unfortunately, there is no safe place for ordinary non-smokers to avoid cigarette smoke as 72.5% of the country’s population, or 16.8 million people, work in closed buildings and rooms. They are at risk from inactive smoking. 86% of the population, or 49.2 million people, are exposed to cigarette smoke in restaurants and hotels, while 76.2% are at risk of exposure to cigarettes on public transport. 21% of young people face inactive smoking in their homes. Smoking has the deadliest effects on human health and at least half of its addicts die.

163,000 people die every year in Pakistan due to tobacco-related diseases which are 9% of the total deaths in the whole country. Non-communicable diseases including cancer, acute respiratory diseases, and heart diseases are mostly caused by tobacco use. At the same time, smoking puts a huge financial burden on society. In developing and densely populated countries, huge economic opportunities are lost because tobacco-related deaths occur between the beneficial years of age, which are 30 to 69 years.

In Pakistan, a smoker spends 3.7% of his daily average national income on the purchase of the cheapest cigarettes and thus billions of rupees are lost every year. According to the World Health Organization, 1,200 children under the age of 15 start smoking every day. We must remember that tobacco is not a necessary thing for human beings and provides no health benefits.

It only aggravates their problems and difficulties by increasing their anxiety, stress, poverty, and malnutrition. Above all, it destroys the economy and the environment of the country. If we really believe that only the youth are capable of contributing to our development, then the government should take immediate steps to reduce the smoking trend in the country. In this regard, it is very important to protect children from becoming alternative customers. If this work is done effectively, in the next 10 to 15 years, no smoker will be left in the country.

According to the World Health Organization, imposing heavy taxes on tobacco has proved to be the most effective way to curb the smoking trend. Unlike other developing countries, Pakistan still has cheaper tobacco products than the rest of the world. It has been suggested that in order to reduce cigarette use in Pakistan, the government should increase the taxes by at least 30% per year. It is time for us to decide whether we want to see our people die like this, to continue to burden our economy with billions of rupees of medical treatment every year, or to leave our children orphaned and helpless. Do we want to see their future darken and our productive capacity to be destroyed? Today we need to think, and we have to make a decision.

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