Public health: Plumes of smoke make ban look like a joke

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 8:30:11 by



Violations of the anti-tobacco regulations are rampant in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. This is clearly reflected by the open distribution of promotional material by new restaurants listing sheesha’s availability in a bid to attract customers. Besides, this many shopkeepers are openly selling cigarette packs, mostly smuggled, which do not have the required pictorial warnings on them.

Talking to The Express Tribune, health experts and civil society expressed their deep concern over this and placed the blame on the government. They were of the view that after the devolution of the Ministry of Health under the 18th Amendment, the tobacco control cell has apparently been rendered toothless. There is no watchdog to keep check on businesses and individuals who are openly violating the law by glamorising tobacco products.

They also pointed out that the recent open tobacco advertisement blitz by a transnational tobacco company using different media outlets violates Section 7 of the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance 2002, which restricts tobacco companies from advertising their products in any media.

They said that is very unfortunate that although Pakistan has taken the initiative to introduce tobacco control policies at a national level prior to the recognition of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a lack of political will to prioritise tobacco control and vigorous promotional campaigns by “wily tobacco industry lobbyists” remains a stumbling block in the path to effective implementation of tobacco control laws in Pakistan.

Talking to The Express Tribune, a tobacco cell official on the condition of anonymity felt that the recent open violation of anti-tobacco law has embarrassed Pakistan in the international arena.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Agha Khan University Pulmonology head Professor Javed Khan, said it is very unfortunate that 100,000 people in Pakistan die every year because of tobacco consumption.

“There are many pan shops that openly sell cigarette packs without pictorial warnings and no one is there to keep a check on them,” said Prof Khan, who is also the National Alliance for Tobacco Control’s chairman.

There are many restaurants that have specialised sheesha menus along with food listings. “Tobacco advertisements and these menus motivate and attract not only youngsters, but also those who had quit,” he said.

He said that in Pakistan, tobacco advertisement is being associated with glamour and strength, but “unfortunately, it only promotes three ‘Ds’-death, disease and disability.”

The Network for Consumer Protection (TheNetwork) Executive Coordinator Nadeem Iqbal strongly protested with the government over the open violation of anti-tobacco laws in the country, calling it “a public health disaster”.

He said TheNetwork has lodged a legal complaint against a leading multinational cigarette manufacturer at Margala Police Station which has been forwarded to the federal legal branch of the police.

Besides this, letters were sent to all magazines that violated the law by publishing tobacco advertisements.” One violator, a monthly news magazine, published an apology in their most recent issue.

He said that according to media reports, a major cigarette manufacturer made an unconditional apology to the tobacco control cell over the same issue, however, the advertisement in question still appeared in a weekly news magazine and a leading Urdu daily.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2011.

Islamabad News Sources -2

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Posted by on Dec 20 2011. Filed under Breaking News, Health, Latest News, Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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