The per person consumption of cigarettes per year in Pakistan is the highest in South Asia, with Rs 560 million going up in smoke daily. Smoking becomes the single most important risk factor to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide.
Experts and other participants of a seminar that was held at the Aga Khan University auditorium here to mark the sixth annual World COPD Day observed this. Dr Mohammad Irfan, Prof Nawal Salahuddin, Prof Javaid Khan and Dr Suleman Haque spoke at the seminar on the theme: "Breathless not helpless".
About the prevalence of COPD, Dr Mohammad Irfan said the devastating lung disease that progressively robbed the sufferer of breath was the fifth leading cause of death in the high-income countries and sixth leading cause of death in the low- and middle-income states. "More than three million people die from the disease every year. In Pakistan, the estimated COPD mortality rate is 71 deaths per 100,000, the fourth highest rate among the 25 most populous nations in the world," said Dr Irfan.
Cigarette smoking was the single most important cause of COPD. He said that 73 per cent of COPD mortality was related to smoking. According to the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) report of August 2002, cigarette consumption per person per year in Pakistan was the highest in South Asia.
A speaker cited an AKU report to point out that 1,200 children in the age group of 6-16 years took up smoking every day in Pakistan. The speakers urged the government to take measures to reduce the burden of COPD on the national exchequer, the Dawn reported.