Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, April 20th, 2018

Say No to Smoking

International No Smoking Day is celebrated each year on 9th March, so as to highlight the dangers of smoking and the different diseases that are related to smoking.  It also highlights how it is related with other social issues and in certain cases even multiplies them. It is also to highlight the influence of smoking that the smokers cause to non-smokers. At the same time, it emphasizes measures by governments to control the issue and do not let more people influenced by it.
Unfortunately, smoking is a sort of problem that is not considered a serious problem by many. There are certain people who take the issue very lightly and, in fact, consider it a non-issue. However, the problems related to it are innumerable and can be a serious problem for the world as whole.
Therefore, it is necessary to understand that the issue of smoking is really a grave concern. According to the statistics from World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than one billion smokers around the world. And, even more unfortunate facts is that 80 percent of them belong to lower and middle classes of the society. They are the people who hardly can afford smoking tobacco and can neither avail health facilities if they get sick because of it.
Moreover, WHO reveals that around 100 million people died in 20th century because of tobacco and there are fears that around one billion people may die in 21st century if the current trends are maintained in smoking. Smoking tobacco is one of the main causes of lung and mouth cancers and is also responsible for different sorts of infections related to respiratory and digestive system. Statistics show that if there are no urgent measures taken, the annual death toll from tobacco consumption can rise to more than eight million people by 2030, which is really very high and alarming, but not realized so by many countries and authorities.
One of the main causes of high consumption of tobacco is its easy availability. In most of the countries tobacco or cigarettes that contain tobacco can be found in almost all the streets and at very cheap price. Moreover, there are no restrictions of age group as well; even children can buy them and then consume them without any difficulty. 
One of the main reasons of such convenient availability is undoubtedly the illicit tobacco trade. Weaker governments are not able to control the influx of different sorts of tobacco because of the pressures exerted by the giants producers; neither they are able to have strong tax policies regarding their trade.
Afghanistan is also one of the countries where tobacco consumption is very high and there are no tangible measures to curb the situation. Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), has on certain occasions highlighted that the proliferation of smuggled tobacco and easy access to it are the basic reasons that smoking has become so inexpensive and widespread in Afghanistan. Even children have become the victims and are now suffering from smoking addiction.
According to a study by MoPH, about 23 percent of students between the ages of 13 to 15 smoke in Afghanistan. If this is the condition of school going children what can be expected from the children who do not go to school and are child labors. Definitely, their percentage must be very high as the places where they work are very vulnerable! Moreover, the parents do not deal with this issue seriously. As some of them, themselves, smoke and do not consider it a threat, therefore, they do not make their children abstain it either.
It is really important that the government deals with this situation seriously. Government must ensure measures to discourage the illicit trade of tobacco. Heightening the tax rates on tobacco can be very much helpful in this regard. In addition to increase in tax on tobacco, it is also essential that the government must have a particular strategy to deal with the situation.
It should make sure that it adheres to the WHO’s Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, which requires a wide range of measures related to the tobacco supply chain, with the licensing of imports, exports and production of tobacco products; the formation of tracking and tracing systems and the imposition of penal sanctions on those responsible for illicit trade. It would also criminalize illicit production and cross border smuggling.
Smoking tobacco can, undoubtedly, give rise to serious health conditions and the tobacco industry will keep on increasing its productions and find out ways of finding new consumers. Its producers would not even hesitate to target young children and would make sure that their trade must never diminish. It is, therefore, responsibility of the government and the aware sections of the society to emphasize on the vices of this evil and carve out measures to control it.