Every year on 31st May, World No Tobacco Day celebrated around the world. Awareness walks, seminars and press conferences held to raise awareness about hazards of tobacco use. But all these walks and seminars are symbolic and are held only on the occasion of the day while lasting results in all these processes can be achieved only by the interest of government.
The World Health Organization has named this year’s World No Tobacco Day as “highlighting the harmful effects of the tobacco industry on environment.”
According to the World Health Organization, the global tobacco epidemic kills approximately 8 million people each year, more than 1,200,000 of whom die from secondhand smoke, When it comes to harmful effects on human health, smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The Government of Pakistan has taken numerous measures to protect the health of future generations, which includes the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health Ordinance, 2002. In addition, several SROs have been issued in continuation of this ordinance, In May 2004, Government of Pakistan has signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and ratified it in the same year.
On the other hand, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination established the Tobacco Control Cell in July 2020 under the Director Tobacco Control and has also awarded by the World Health Organization last year on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day for taking exemplary measures to protect the lives of people from deadly effects of tobacco.
Yes Of course you may be thinking that there are many laws in our country but the real problem is to ensure the implementation of these laws and especially when it comes to Karachi city where two years ago execution of tobacco control was seemed like a dream.
In February 2020, the then Commissioner Karachi, in collaboration with the Ministry of National Health, Tobacco Smoke Free Cities Project, reiterated that the two districts of the city, South and East, would be made smoke-free model districts.
He directed respective Deputy Commissioners to take significant steps to ensure its implementation and replicate the model of Smoke Free Islamabad.
If we look at the performance of district governments in enforcing anti-smoking laws in the last two years, there is a Tobacco Control Desk in the office of Commissioner Karachi, Tobacco Control Cell in both East and South Districts have been established, Task Force and A District Implementation and Monitoring Committee comprising government departments have been notified.
In result of all these government initiatives, more than 100 public places in the city have been declared smoke free, while the police and the district administration have started taking action against the violators from this month. The Violations include the sale of cigarettes to under 18 age, sale of loose cigarettes, sale of tobacco products within 50 meter limit of any educational institutions including others.
The Tobacco Control Cell in District East Karachi, under the supervision of Deputy Commissioner East and Additional Deputy Commissioner II, has organized awareness sessions in educational institutions to protect the young generation from the harmful effects of smoking, Various competitions have also been organized to promote a healthier environment, including a poster, art /short video competition and a successful exhibition of these posters at Sadequain Art Gallery which recently organized by the Commissioner Karachi Office and the Ministry of National Health.
In which the educational institutions of District East have participated, which includes Sindh Board of Technical Education, Indus University, Aligarh Institute of Technology, Education Department DMC East and District Education Office Secondary and Primary East including others.
In a big city like Karachi where the district administration and police is confronting numbers of issues on a daily basis, it is not possible to ensure 100% implementation on tobacco control laws, but thanks to the personal interest of the district deputy commissioners offices who are taking their personal interests for ensuring compliance on tobacco control laws.
Along with government measures to protect the young generation from the harmful effects of tobacco, the role of parents is also very important, because only a healthy society guarantees the development of the country and the nation.