Enforcement of 85pc pictorial health warning on cigarette packs urged


— Pakistan is home to approximately 19.1 million tobacco users, including 31.8 per cent males, 5.8 per cent females

The concerned quarters have been asked for an immediate enforcement of 85 per cent of pictorial health warning on cigarette packs in the country.

Representatives of various civil society organisations have urged the relevant bodies to act quickly in implementing the new tobacco control rules as early as possible, without any revision.

Coalition for Tobacco Control – Pakistan, (CTC-Pakistan) National Coordinator Khurram Hashmi Sunday said that the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (NHSRC) has demonstrated exemplary measures by introducing enhanced Pictorial Health Warnings (PHW) from 40 per cent to 85 per cent on the front and back of cigarette packs in January 2015.

He said that this stance by the Pakistani government has not only set an example within the Asia region, but also Pakistan became one of the few countries in the world which prioritised the health of its citizens over corporate interests.

He said, interestingly, after Pakistani government’s announcement, India was encouraged to enforce a similar policy of enhanced PHW on cigarette packs, and now as of June 2016, new enhanced PHW has started to appear on cigarette packs in India.

He, however, said that despite government efforts, there was a delay in the implementation of enhanced pictorial size policy, resulting in a major setback for tobacco control efforts by the government.

He said, keeping in view of the government’s keen interest in protecting the health of citizens, strong implementation and enforcement of the cigarettes and other tobacco products—as per the NHSRC notification released in February 2015— is consistent with county’s obligations to Article 11 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and would be a major step forward in the fight against tobacco.

He said that CTC-Pak is a coalition of more than 250 civil society partners hailing from all four provinces and is working towards strengthening the development and implementation of tobacco control policies in the country.

Dr Sobia Faisal, a public health expert, said that Pakistan is home to approximately 19.1 million tobacco users, including 31.8 per cent males and 5.8 per cent females, adding tobacco harms the health, treasury, and spirit of citizens.

She said that the tobacco epidemic in Pakistan requires urgent attention. She added tobacco companies use packaging as their major marketing tool to make tobacco appear appealing while distracting consumers from the reality of how tobacco destroys health.

She said that pictorial health warnings on tobacco packages are a low-cost method of warning tobacco users and non-users about the harms of tobacco.