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News Archive

Launch of Heartfile’s Reports on Smokeless Tobacco and New Nicotine Products.

February 06, 2024: Heartfile convened a dissemination event at Serena Hotel Islamabad to unveil their recently generated evidence on Smokeless Tobacco (SLT) and Tobacco and New Nicotine Products (TNNPs) in Pakistan. Eminent parliamentarians Senator Fawzia Arshad and Senator Seemee Ezdi graced the event. It also gathered prominent figures from various sectors, including government officials, health and tobacco control experts and civil society representatives from all over Pakistan. Access Press Release from this link. Heartfile TNNPs Final Report Heartfile SLTs Final...

Dr. Saba Amjad Highlights Urgent Need for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Policies at the 13th International Public Health Conference

Islamabad: Heartfile, in collaboration with Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) and Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), participated at the 13th International Public Health Conference held at HSA Islamabad. The event, featuring a scientific session titled “Tackling Non-Communicable Disease Risk Factors” focused on crucial health issues in Pakistan, brought together a panel of experts from government bodies, civil society organizations, and advocacy groups. Also together with aforementioned partners, Heartfile setup and maintained presence at a stall inside the event venue for increasing networking and the visibility of Heartfile’s past and present work on NCDs alongside partners’ published materials. Heartfile’s documentary films on ,iTFAs, ENDS and ONPs were screened repeatedly. Heartfile team actively participated in the scientific session. The session explored both Dietary Risk Factors, including industrially produced trans-fatty acids (iTFAs) and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), and non-Dietary Risk Factor of Tobacco use. In his keynote address, Dr. Khawaja Masuood Ahmed, National Coordinator for Nutrition & National Fortification Alliance of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination, provided valuable insights into the milestones achieved and challenges faced in Pakistan's battle against NCDs and appreciated...

The Many Faces of Modern Addiction

The tobacco industry uses different avenues to reach consumers, some of which are intentionally obfuscated to remove obvious affiliation with the industry. Faux grassroots organizations lobby against e-cigarette regulation, marketing campaigns masquerade as public health initiatives and high-profile sports sponsorships place tobacco product advertising before millions of fans. Learn about the ways the tobacco industry hides in plain sight, enabling it to advance its agenda of hooking more users on its deadly products. Full Article Access...

Why the Industry Loves—and Protects—Tobacco Flavors

The dangers of flavored tobacco are clear: It’s appealing to young people, makes it easier to start using tobacco and harder to quit. In other words, tobacco flavors are one of the most effective tools the tobacco industry has to hook the next generation. That’s why the industry fights flavor bans or finds ways to work around them. If flavors aren’t there to cover up the unpleasant taste, smell and sensation of tobacco for young or new smokers, fewer people will become lifelong tobacco users. That means less strain on health systems and economies. Less loss and grief for families and communities. But to tobacco companies, it means only one thing: less profits.

Why the industry loves tobacco flavors

Getting young people hooked on its products is integral to the survival of the tobacco industry. If there were no new tobacco users, tobacco companies would go out of business when current users either quit or die from using their products. So the industry targets young people as “replacement smokers”—a term actually used by an R.J. Reynolds employee in 1984....

Did Tobacco Companies Also Get Us Hooked On Junk Food? New Research Says Yes

The chemically addictive fatty, salty and sweet foods that make up 68% of the American food supply have historically been pushed to consumers by the nation’s leading tobacco sales companies, new research shows, suggesting the same companies responsible for what has been called a “smoking epidemic” could also be partially blamed for a decline in Americans’ health.

KEY FACTS

Food producers owned by tobacco companies like Phillip Morris and RJ Reynolds developed a disproportionately high number of what scientists call “hyper-palatable” foods between 1988 and 2001, a study out Friday by University of Kansas researchers said, “resulting in substantial tobacco-related influence on the U.S. food system.” In the same way tobacco companies formulated cigarette products to maximize their addictiveness, the study’s authors accuse the food producers of taking the same tactics, pumping edible and drinkable products full of sugar, caffeine, fat, sodium and carbs to “create an artificially rewarding eating experience.” Foods produced by tobacco-owned companies were 29% more likely to be classified as hyper-palatable—having a certain mix of ingredients designed to be addictive—due to fat and sodium, the...

Tobacco Taxes Promote Equity: Evidence from Around the Globe

The tobacco industry is intent on keeping its products affordable to people with low incomes, who already face health and economic inequities. Research from around the world reveals that tobacco use makes these inequities worse: Data show that spending money on tobacco—and treating tobacco-related diseases—deepens existing income inequities and worsens financial strain. Increasing taxes on tobacco products is proven to be an effective way to lower tobacco use, especially among price-conscious consumers with lower incomes, including youth. Learn more about how tobacco taxes promote equity. Full Article Access...

FBR seizes cigarettes from a leading manufacturer for alleged tax violations

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has taken action against a well-known cigarette manufacturer, Philip Morris (Pakistan) Limited (PMPKL), allegedly for violating tax regulations. The operation was triggered when it was discovered that the company had been allegedly distributing cigarettes below the minimum retail price, contravening tax laws. Under Pakistan’s stringent regulations to control tobacco use, the government has enforced high taxation on tobacco products to discourage smoking. According to officials at FBR , approximately 650 cartons of cigarettes were confiscated by the FBR in this enforcement action, accompanied by a thorough investigation. The operation was carried out in accordance with the Federal Excise Act, 2005, particularly Section 19, which explicitly prohibits selling cigarettes below the set retail price, which is what PMPKL is accused of doing. In addition to confiscation, the Act empowers authorities to impose fines and penalties on violators. The location of the raid remains a mystery. Officials from FBR claim that the raid took place in Karachi and the FBR arm of Karachi conducted it. The spokesperson from Philip Morris however denied that the raid took place in Karachi,...

Smokers who start below age 20 find it difficult to quit, finds study

Researchers have urged governments to raise the legal age to buy cigarettes to 22 years or higher as a new study has found it becomes less addictive and easier to quit as people get older. The legal age to purchase tobacco is 18 years old in many countries but in some nations, there are no age restrictions. It is estimated that nearly 9 out of 10 adults who smoke cigarettes daily first try smoking by age 18, and 99 per cent first try smoking by age 26. Results showed that starting smoking early is linked with higher nicotine dependency, even in young adulthood, and early starters were 30 per cent less likely to quit the habit compared with late starters. “The study indicates that increasing the legal age to buy tobacco to 22 years or older could lead to a reduction in the number of people addicted to nicotine and at risk of adverse health consequences,” said study author Dr Koji Hasegawa of the National Hospital Organisation Kyoto Medical Center, Kyoto, Japan. This study examined the relationship between the age of smoking initiation, nicotine dependence...

How smoking harms the brain

We know that smoking is bad for our lungs and heart, but now we know that it harms the brain as well.  As part of our Staying Sharp series, Dr Sherif Karama of McGill University, Canada, reveals the evidence.

Lifestyle choices affect brain ageing

People with good cognitive abilities (i.e. thinking skills) in old age tend to be those who have had good cognitive abilities throughout their lives. Nonetheless, in old age, most, if not all, of us exhibit a certain degree of decline in some thinking skills, like learning new information and being able to quickly shift from one mental task to another. However, some of us show a steeper rate of decline than others. The factors that affect this rate of decline are still being researched but some are already clear and one of them is smoking.

Smoking speeds up brain ageing

While the effect of smoking on cognitive abilities is relatively small and requires large studies to be able to be detected, it is nonetheless present. Recently, we also looked at the effect on the structure of the...

More teens blowing away life in puffs of e-cigarettes, study warns

KARACHI: Despite having sufficient knowledge about the potential health risks associated with nicotine exposure, an increasing number of young people are getting hooked on e-cigarettes, smoking devices that are powered by a battery, says a study recently published in an online journal. Titled ‘Electronic Cigarettes and their Knowledge, Attitude and Practices among Pakistani Population: A Multi-City Study Across Pakistan’, the research is jointly conducted by the Aga Khan University and Multan Medical and Dental College. Over 800 individuals with mean age 29.6 years participated in the study during which 43.4 per cent respondents reported using e-cigarettes. “This is significantly higher than a 2017 study conducted among adolescents when prevalence of e-cigarettes was just 24 per cent. The current study also found that the mean age at which people start using e-cigarettes is 17 years and that 58 per cent of people believe smoking makes young people look ‘cool’,” it says. The study, the first nation-wide research on the subject, also found that more than half of the respondents (55pc) had sufficient knowledge regarding e-cigarette use. Among the participants, 6pc of the individuals were found to...

Vaping just once raises oxidative stress levels in nonsmokers, increasing disease risk

The risk that both tobacco and electronic cigarettes can pose to regular smokers’ health has been well documented, but a new UCLA study illustrates just how quickly vaping can affect the cells of even healthy younger nonsmokers. The findings, published today in JAMA Pediatrics, show that a single 30-minute vaping session can significantly increase cellular oxidative stress, which occurs when the body has an imbalance between free radicals — molecules that can cause damage to cells — and antioxidants, which fight free radicals. “Over time, this imbalance can play a significant role in causing certain illnesses, including cardiovascular, pulmonary and neurological diseases, as well as cancer,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Holly Middlekauff, a professor of cardiology and physiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. E-cigarettes, devices that deliver nicotine with flavoring and other chemicals in a vapor rather than smoke, are seen by many as a safer alternative to regular cigarettes, but research by Middlekauff and others has demonstrated that vaping is associated with a number of adverse changes in the body that can presage future health problems. For...

Smoke and Mirrors in Bangladesh

What are the end-products of undue corporate influence over public policy and decision-making that tip the scale of power away from governments and the people in favor of private interests? Government systems that benefit specific industries above their citizen’s own well-being. One classic and the best example of this manipulation is the tobacco industry—almost nobody does it better.

Other times, the tobacco industry’s direct interference with economic and public health policy is wide-reaching and sits very close to the surface
But how they do it varies from country to country. In some instances, tobacco companies throw their corporate weight behind one specific initiative but hide their involvement several layers below the surface. Such has been the case in Pakistan. The global tobacco industry has been suspected of using a front group to push the government’s use of a cigarette tracking and tracing system that likely allows the industry to be secretly involved in cigarette smuggling. Other times, the tobacco industry’s direct interference with economic and public health policy is wide-reaching and sits very close to the surface. Bangladesh serves as a useful case study...