Experts term smoking a gateway to narcotics on anti-drugs day

10:00 AM, 28 Jun, 2024
Experts term smoking a gateway to narcotics on anti-drugs day

Islamabad: As cigarette smoking is considered a gateway to use of stronger addictive drugs, health experts have called on the government to tackle the menace and implement robust fiscal and regulatory measures to combat drug addiction during an event marking International Day Against Drug Abuse 2024.
The annual observance of the day aims to raise awareness about the perils of drug abuse and advocate for a drug-free society. This year's theme, "Prevention is Better," emphasizes the crucial role of preventive measures in addressing the global drug problem, with experts particularly highlighting the role of cigarettes as a gateway to more harmful substances.
Research consistently shows that cigarette smoking often precedes the use of more dangerous drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine. 
As nicotine addiction, initiated through smoking, can increase people’s propensity to seek stronger and more addictive substances, targeting tobacco use is a must to prevent substance abuse.
The government's recent decisions of not increasing the Federal Excise Duty (FED) on tobacco products while simultaneously raising the pricing threshold has been criticized by public health advocates, who argue that these measures benefit large tobacco corporations, potentially increasing smoking rates and subsequently promoting drug abuse.
Viewing the decision as prioritizing tobacco industry profits over public health outcomes, they argue that higher taxes on tobacco have proven effective in reducing smoking rates, especially among vulnerable populations. The failure to implement such measures represents a missed opportunity to deter smoking initiation and the progression to other forms of substance abuse, they assert.
The experts urge the government to reconsider its approach, advocating for stronger fiscal and regulatory actions to curb tobacco use and mitigate drug abuse risks effectively.