Tobacco, Sheesha prohibited in federal capital: minister

  • Talal says ICT-backed six teams monitoring all tobacco control laws

ISLAMABAD: State Minister for Interior Muhammad Talal Chaudhary on Tuesday informed the Senate that tobacco/Sheesha (Huqqa) had been prohibited in the federal capital and action was being taken against the violators.

Replying to a question, he denied that the use of tobacco was increasing in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). He said that the ICT administration had constituted six teams under the assistant commissioners in its all sub-divisions for effective enforcement of Sheesha (Huqqa) ban and monitoring of all tobacco control laws.

He said that the enforcement teams conducted raids against Sheesha (Huqqa) bars/violators of tobacco control laws and imposed fines as part of efforts to control indoor and underage smoking. In 2015-17, the teams collectively imposed fine of Rs 3.114 million on the violators, he added.

He said that many Sheesha (Huqqa) bars had closed down after successful enforcement of the ban by the ICT administration. During the current year, 39 bar owners, 15 servants and 28 tobacco/Sheesha smokers were found involved and action was taken against them under the relevant law.

Talal said that the ICT administration was to make Islamabad a Tobacco–Smoke Free City in collaboration with the Capital Administration and Development Division (CA&DD) by creating unawareness and enforcement of tobacco control laws, including Sheesha (Huqqa) bars.

He said that to plan, implement and monitor the initiative of the Tobacco-Smoke Free City, a District Implementation & Monitoring Committee (DI&MC) on Tobacco Control under the chairmanship of the deputy commissioner was notified. Meetings of the said committee were being held every month since its notification.

He said that the Sheesha (Huqqa) bars were totally banned in the ICT. However, implementation against the menace was a continuous process for which the ICT administration was committed, he added. He said that the ICT administration prohibited the tobacco business near educational institutions under the Tobacco Control Ordinance.

At the moment, more than 80 per cent shops near educational institutions did not sell tobacco products, the state minister said. He said that the ICT administration in collaboration with the CA&DD declared and inaugurated 164 public places as tobacco smoke free facilities, including all hotels and restaurants, schools/colleges/universities and high-rise buildings (i.e. Centaurus, Islamabad Stock Exchange, Saudi Pak Tower, UBL Tower along all branches of North Zone, ZTBL with 488 branches, MoU signed with HEC etc).

Similarly, 10 public parks of Islamabad were declared as tobacco smoke-free. Talal said that all the SDPOs/SHOs also had been strictly directed to launch awareness programmes among the youth within their areas to invite their attention towards the harmful effects of tobacco/Sheesha smoking and to ensure that no person sells smoking substance to any minor, who is below the age of 18 years.

To another question, the state minister said a plan had been devised under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to meet water requirement of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad till 2050. PC 1 of the project had also been made, he added. To a question, Talal said that crime rate had witnessed considerable decrease after operationalising of the safe city project which was signed in past but it was materialised by the incumbent government.