Thousands of volunteers registered with the humanitarian organization across Pakistan will be trained to participate in campaigns designed to promote awareness about the hazards of tobacco use and other substances inimical to health. In this regard a Letter of Intent was signed by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination and World Health Organization (WHO) with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS). Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr. Faisal Sultan, Chairman of PRCS Abrar-ul-Haq, and Dr. Minhaj us Siraj, Director of the government’s stellar Smoke-Free Cities Project operating under the Tobacco Control Cell, attended the ceremony, among others. On this occasion, Dr Faisal Sultan said that the global tobacco epidemic kills nearly eight million people globally every year More than seven million of these deaths are from direct tobacco use and around 1.2 million are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke, said a news release. According to the Global Burden of disease study (2019) death toll caused by factors attributable to tobacco is 163,671.54 in Pakistan, he said. He said “We will continue to strive to raise awareness and promote a smoke free society by providing a counter-marketing campaign, awareness against nicotine use and empower young people to engage in the fight against Tobacco.” He called upon every citizen of Pakistan to contribute to this noble cause to safeguard the health and well-being of our present and future generations. Dr. Minhaj us Siraj said that his team with devoted professionals have been striving for a decade now to raise awareness about the hazards of tobacco use. “Dedicated Tobacco Control Cells in the district government offices are coordinating these efforts and every significant department of the government and social sector is a stakeholder,” he said. He said that this is another milestone to engage PRCS and added that previously tobacco control has also been strengthened by linking up with the Anti-Narcotics Force. He said that tobacco control and drug control joined hands in the world for the protection of society. He added the Pakistan Boy Scouts Association, Sindh Chapter, is also spearheading awareness campaigns among its own scouts and the general public. All these efforts are geared towards the prevention of cancers, cardiovascular and other Non-Communicable Diseases associated with tobacco use, he added. Chairman Pakistan Red Crescent Society, Abrar-ul-Haq said that the PRCS would contribute to the cause of tobacco control through volunteers to target the youth group for awareness and counselling. He said the PRCS declared all its offices, campuses, and blood banks across Pakistan as smoke-free. As of now, 272 public places nationwide, including 21 parks, are smoke-free, he added. The need to engage PRCS volunteers in awareness raising and other anti-tobacco implementation activities stems from the escalating rate of youth smoking. These volunteers would visit public places and educational institutions to educate young people about the hazards of tobacco use and to garner support for the creation of a totally smoke-free society, he said. Dr Palitha Mahipala, Head of Country Office WHO, appreciated the initiatives of the government for tobacco Control. He said the WHO believes that if the present trend continues and enforcement of tobacco control laws through the Smoke-Free Cities initiative and implementation of point-of-sale advertisement ban on tobacco products is carried out across the country, Pakistan will lead the EMRO Region in achieving the target of smoking prevalence reduction by 30% by 2025. He said this was one of the key activities being arranged in connection with World No-Tobacco Day (WNTD), which is observed worldwide on May 31 each year. He said ‘Commit to Quit’ is the theme for WNTD this year—a year when the WHO’s Tobacco Control Secretariat for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, Cairo, has recognized the efforts of the Tobacco Control Cell through an annual award conferred on the government of Pakistan.