Tobacco kills around 166,000 persons a year in Pakistan: Health ministry

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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Health has requested all the provincial chief secretaries and Chief Commissioner, Islamabad to issue necessary directions to the relevant authorities to launch a crackdown/legal action against the violators of tobacco advertisement guidelines issued under Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smoker’s Health Ordinance, 2002.

In his letter, Minister of State for Health Dr. Zafar Mirza said that tobacco use is single largest preventable cause of death in the world.

In Pakistan, tobacco is a cause of death of around 166,000 persons every year, according to a press release issued by the ministry.

The youth of Pakistan are being targeted by the tobacco industry so that “replacement smokers” could be recruited. Around 1200 Pakistani children between age of 6 & 15 start smoking every day.

In context, it is necessary to take immediate measures for tobacco control. Enforcing existing tobacco control laws could be helpful in curbing tobacco epidemic and saving lives of people of Pakistan.

In letters issued to all provincial chief secretaries and Chief Commissioner, Islamabad the Secretary, National Health Services has raised the issue of violations being committed by cigarette manufacturers by offering gifts, cash back rewards, free sampling, cash offers, use of human or animal pictures to attract consumers etc.

In this context, he quoted different SROs issued under “The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smoker’s Health Ordinance, 2002“. According to S.R.O. 1086(I)/2013, it is illegal to advertise tobacco and tobacco products on print, electronic and outdoor media or through depiction of a human or animal images or through a poster or banner affixed outside a shop, kiosk or mobile trolley.

Moreover, according to S.R.O. 53(KE)/2009, it is illegal to offer free goods, cash rebates, free samples, discount or goods below the market values for the purpose of the advertisement of tobacco or tobacco products to consumers to generates sale or promote smoking.

He informed that S.R.O. 1068(I)/2006 & S.R.O. 46(I)/2007 empower the provincial governments and ICT administration to enforce tobacco control laws in their jurisdiction. Since Police officers (ASI & above) are authorized persons to take action against the violators of the aforesaid laws/Ordinance, so all the provincial chief Secretaries and Chief Commissioner, Islamabad have been requested to issue necessary directions to the relevant authorities to launch crackdown/legal action against the violators of tobacco advertisement guidelines.

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