The Tobacco Control Cell (TCC) of Ministry of National Health Services has conducted more than 402 awareness and capacity building sessions for the law enforcement agencies (LEAs), authorised persons, and the general public, in which about 12,000 persons were trained.
The cell is taking demand and supply reduction measures to control the epidemic of tobacco use in the country.
Tobacco causes the largest preventable number of deaths in the world; in Pakistan, tobacco kills 1645 men and 442 women every week which are about 298 deaths per day, 2087 per week and 108,800 per year.
According to Tobacco Atlas, 5th Edition, World Lung Foundation, 2015, the diseases caused by tobacco use include lung cancers and heart diseases among others.
Highlighting the measures adopted by the cell to control tobacco epidemic in the country, the official sources on Saturday said these included policy and legislative interventions, ban on import of Sheesha (tobacco and non-tobacco) related substances, introduction of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs and ban on tobacco products advertisement in print, electronic media; ban on free samples, cash rebates, discounts and sponsorship of events.
The other steps included the ban on manufacturing and sale of cigarettes packs having less than 20 cigarette sticks, the illegalisation of designated smoking areas, and increase in FED on cigarette packs– 40.33pc increase in FED in last two financial years.
Under infrastructure development and institutionalisation, the sources said tobacco control cells have been established in all provinces of Pakistan.
Some other steps included formation of the National Technical Advisory Group (TAG), the formation of technical working group on tobacco taxation, formation and activation of provincial implementation committees for tobacco control and formation of District Implementation & Monitoring Committees on tobacco control in model districts.
Moreover, under awareness interventions, the sources said the cell conducted provincial and district implementation committees meetings, launch of two national mass media campaigns – Sponge (2016) and Tobacco is Hollowing You Out (2015), dissemination of information materials on hazards of tobacco use, secondary tobacco smoke and tobacco control laws and also installation of 200 boards with tobacco control messages at public places in Islamabad.
Similarly, under multifarious awareness interventions, the sources said cell’s endeavours included Radio and TV Programmes, newspaper ads, production and airing of two documentary films in national and regional languages, incorporation of tobacco control messages in curriculum and branding of buses with tobacco control messages in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
The sources said under enforcement measures, the cell ensured capacity building of law enforcement officers, raids by law enforcement teams. As a result, 963 cases have been registered across the country under various sections of 2002 Ordinance.
The main tobacco control laws that are available to the cell: Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smoker’s Health Ordinance, 2002, and Cigarette Ordinance, 1979 (Amendment in 2002).