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World No Tobacco Day & Implementation of Tobacco Control laws in Pakistan

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Every year World No Tobacco Day celebrated on 31st May. Awareness Sessions, seminars, press conferences and walks organized in all over the world to aware public about the dangers of tobacco use. Whereas on this day it was also urged to the governments to ensure the implementation on existing tobacco control laws and to make effective laws for the protection of young generation’s health.

This year the theme of World No Tobacco Day is “Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use”.

Due to the spread of COVID-19 it is not possible to celebrate this day like the previous years. But the whole world have eyes on the worst effects of tobacco use during the pandemic. As per the report of WHO- World Health Organization tobacco users are at higher risk of COVID-19.

In addition WHO report stated that every year 8 million people died in all over the world due to tobacco use, in which 7 million are direct users of tobacco and more than one million are those who died due to second hand smoke.

It was also mentioned on the said report that, COVID-19 is an infectious disease that primarily attacks the lungs. Smoking impairs lung function making it harder for the body to fight off coronaviruses and other diseases. Tobacco is also a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes which put people with these conditions at higher risk for developing severe illness when affected by COVID-19.

According to the data available on website of Tobacco Control Cell of Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination In the year 2017, 163,360 people die in Pakistan because of tobacco use.

Whereas Global Adult Tobacco Survey of 2015 stated that In Pakistan 23.9 Million are users of tobacco in which 15.6 million are those who use cigerattes and 3.7 Million are users of Sheesha/Hookah.

However as per 6th Edition of Tobacco Atlas 2018, Every year 160,100 people die in Pakistan due to tobacco use and according to National Health Survey 1999 report every day five thousand people admit in hospital because of tobacco use.

In Pakistan’s business Hub Karachi there is no implementation on Tobacco Control Laws. The main reason behind no implementation on said laws is lack of provincial government willingness and non-existence of Tobacco Control Cell.

Effective laws on Tobacco Control have existed in Pakistan but implementation on these laws is still a question mark on the performance of federal and provincial governments.

Tobacco Control Cell whose offices are located in five districts of Punjab and one district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. When we look into the performance of Tobacco Control cell which works under Ministry of NHSR&C from 2007 the establishment of first tobacco control cell till now it has taken several initiatives for tobacco control, which has appreciated by the various countries and also some countries have replicated their idea.

Tobacco Control cell which is now called as Tobacco Control Directorate is working under the supervision of Dr. Minhaj us Siraj , whereas the directorate intends to initiate work in Karachi also.

When we talk about the achievements of Tobacco Control Directorate it includes all public places of Islamabad and the events which held in the city are declared smoke free. Whereas recently by the struggle of Dr. Minhaj Government of Pakistan through SRO banned Point of Sale advertisement of cigarette companies in all over the country . In addition loose cigarettes sale was also banned through SRO ۔.

Moreover Smoke free Pakistan application is also one of the great achievement of this directorate by which citizens could report violations of tobacco control laws.

On the other hand as per news report published on The News Dr. Zafar Mirza Special Assistant to PM on Health sent recommendations for the finance bill 2020-21 which aims to save the lives of people from the dangers of smoking and to generate 24 Billion more revenue.

According to report , in the recommendations include removal of all exemptions of tobacco taxes provided at Serial No. 4 of Schedule 3 of the Federal Excise Act. However The proposal also calls for earmarking 2% of tobacco tax revenues for the Sehat Sahulat Programme, and other programmes focusing on treatment of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and tobacco control.

No Doubt the steps are appreciable but these laws and initiatives are useless for the citizens until the implementation on tobacco control laws would not be ensured.

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