Society for Alternative Media and Research (SAMAR) organized a seminar titled “Role of Govt & Civil Society for Sustainable Tobacco Control policy” in Islamabad.
Member organizations from across the country participated in the seminar.
Amongst distinguished speakers were Dr. Minhaj Us Saraj, Project Director, Tobacco Smoke-free Capital, Dr. Samra Mazhar Deputy Director (National Focal Point for WHO FCTC/Illicit Trade, Head of Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of NHSR&C, Government of Pakistan, Mr. Mazhar Arif, Executive Director Society for Alternative Media and Research, Shahzad Alam, Programme Manager WHO, Mr. Khuram Hashmi, Tobacco Control Expert, Senior Technical Advisor, The Union and Sania Ali Focal Person The STOP .
Speakers demand to bane new novel tobacco products, they urged the government to crack down against Tobacco Industry that is innovating the use of Tobacco in order to increase their revenue.
They also highlighted the need to strengthen the implementation of National Tobacco Control laws in letter and spirit.
They were of the view that laws are present but there is a serious lack in the implementation of those laws. Speakers stressed the need that it is incumbent upon civil society to push the government for the implementation of existing laws. They lamented that Tobacco is being used even in government organizations despite the presence of laws on National Tobacco Control.
Speakers appreciated the role of the Coalition for Tobacco Control Pakistan (CTC-Pak) in making possible the ban on Sheesha, enforcing the commitments on PHW (Pictorial Health Warning). Moreover, Civil society urges the government to adopt an independent National Tobacco Control Policy (NTCP) to minimize reliance on international institutions. Tobacco use is one of the major causes of death in the world. In Pakistan, tobacco kills more than 160,100 persons yearly.
FCTC emphasizes on member countries to take a step forward and adopt long-term sustainable policies for Tobacco control. WHO and international donors are providing support to take preventive measures.
Under the guidelines of WHO, FCTC member countries are responsible for policy-making for tobacco control. Pakistan also adopts tobacco control measures by implementing laws and enforcement.
International donor’s role is appreciable, but, for a sustainable National Tobacco Control Policy or Strategy on the federal and provincial level, the Government must take ownership and provide funds for tobacco control to MNHSRC and Tobacco Control Cell (TCC) like other health issues.
While concluding the session, Shahzad Alam, Programme Manager WHO urged the civil society and the government to take serious steps to control the use of Tobacco as well as new novel Tobacco products which are creating havoc especially among our youth.
He urged the government to crack down against Tobacco Industry that is innovating the use of Tobacco in order to increase their revenue. Awareness campaigns at the local level must be channelized to motivate youth to condemn as well as stay away from this menace.
Parents and teachers are greatly responsible in this manner. Teachers’ training sessions must be organized on regular basis. Religious scholars must be convinced to highlight this issue in their religious sermons.
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