Letters To The Editor

“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.” – Og Mandino

Social media and social awareness

We have seen just how much social media can create change since 2017 when, on October 15, 2017, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet”. Her tweet has since received more than 50,000 likes, 25,000 retweets, and 60,000 responses and was a catalyst for the #MeToo movement. Through the use of hashtags, social media serves as a powerful tool for people and movements to share their stories, reaching new audiences across the globe. Social media has brought attention to such issues and causes in ways traditional media has not. People have front row access to the issues afflicting communities and driving activism. Social media provides a firsthand account of the biggest issues facing the world today from those directly impacted. As a result, increasing awareness of an issue is where social media can have the greatest impact. The list of campaigns gets longer each day as more people use social media to raise awareness and promote solidarity around a movement. But this doesn’t mean that social media doesn’t also have its detractors, and rightfully so. Posting or tweeting a hashtag has been called a form of slacktivism, where users join the conversation and spread awareness about an issue but don’t take any action in the real-world. Tweeting a hashtag, or posting to Facebook with the image of a country’s flag over your profile picture doesn’t do much, other than make you feel better for your hashtag activism. Social media is a means, not an end. Awareness is a tactic, not a goal. Slacktivism only becomes true activism, and brings true change, when the movement has a goal and a means to achieve it.

Noor Saba,

Tobacco consumption and youth

Tobacco use among youth is increasing in epidemic proportions across the world. It is estimated that the vast majority of tobacco users start using tobacco products well before the age of 18 years. Globally, one in every 10 girls and one in every five boys, aged 13 to 15 years, use tobacco. It is further projected that current trends of tobacco use would result in the deaths of 250 million children and young people over time, most of them in developing countries. Tobacco use during adolescence and early adulthood has profound public health implications. Adolescent onset tobacco use leads to ‘accelerated dependency’ within a short period from first exposure. In addition, it has been consistently linked to heart disease, cancers, and premature mortality. Tobacco use among youth has also been well recognised as one of the behaviours that defy social norms. The tobacco use situation in Pakistan is complex owing to the availability of various forms of tobacco. Also, adolescence and early adulthood, i.e., 15 to 24 years, are considered to be the most susceptible phase of life for initiation of tobacco use in Pakistan. Based on available evidence, it is estimated that five per cent to 25 per cent of Pakistani adolescents currently use or have ever used tobacco. Even though smokeless tobacco is used less commonly, high rates of its use have been reported in Pakistan among adolescents aged 13 to 15 years (15 per cent of boys and five per cent of girls). Due to the enormous psychosocial and health effects of tobacco on youth, it is pertinent to understand its burden along with sociodemographic factors for formulating effective tobacco control measures targeting them.

Amjad Ali,