Residents of twin cities raise their voice against sheesha smoking

ISLAMABAD: The residents of twin cites of Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Wednesday urged the authorities concerned to implement effective strategies to curb the menace of sheesha consumption among youngsters and teenagers on public places.

Most hotels, restaurants and cafes in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, like other big cities of the country, are openly offering this deadly product in a variety of flavours, where youngsters hang out and the sheesha houses do not face any hurdle to satiate their desire.

Sheesha offers a mixture of crude types of tobacco fermented with molasses and fruits and the sweet odour of fruits conceals natural smell of tobacco, tar and nicotine.

Ahmad Bilal, a senior official in a government organisation, told APP, “The deadly smoking habit has become a fashion symbol in society. The smokers, however, don’t know that it is a delicious killer, which kills the person gradually.” Everyday new sheesha cafes are opening up in the country because of its increasing demand by the younger generation, he added.

Zehra Jabeen, a professor at a local college, said, “Sale of cigarettes or other tobacco items to youngsters below 18 is banned in Pakistan. But various sheesha outlets at Jinnah Super, Melody, F10, Pir Suhawa and other restaurants of the federal capital openly violate the laws that bar the sale of tobacco to youngsters below the age of 18.”

According to health experts, smokers inhale up to 150 times more tobacco in a single session than a cigarette. Sheesha causes lung diseases, cancer and the flavoured smoking is many times more harmful to health than smoking a simple cigarette. The Punjab government has taken some steps to curb this social evil following the Sindh example. It banned sheesha smoking in April under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, whereas in other big cities, it directed to launch health awareness campaigns to initiate stern action against the sheesha cafes.

It is a point to ponder for the government, policy makers and public whether only awareness campaigns can stop this social evil or we need a legal ordinance to stop sheesha smoking at public places? app