ISLAMABAD: Coalition for Tobacco Control Pakistan (CTC-Pakistan) Thursday asked the quarters concerned to immediately enforce 85 percent of pictorial health warning (PHW) on cigarette packs.
National Coordinator, CTC-Pakistan, Khurram Hashmi has written a letter to the relevant bodies reminding them that Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination (NHSRC) had demonstrated exemplary measures by introducing enhanced Pictorial Health Warnings (PHW) from 40% to 85% on the front and back of cigarette packs in January 2015.
He urged them to implement the new tobacco control rules as soon as possible,without any revision.
He said that this stance by Pakistani Government had not only set an example within the Asian region, but also Pakistan become one of the few countries in the world who prioritized health of its citizens over corporate interests.
He however said that despite government efforts, there was delay in the implementation of enhanced pictorial size policy that has resulted in a major set-back for tobacco control efforts by the government.
He said keeping in view of government keen interest for protecting the health of citizens, strong implementation and enforcement of the cigarettes and other tobacco products as per the NHSRC notification released in February 2015, is consistent with county’s obligations to Article 11 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and would be a major step forward in the fight against tobacco.
He pointed out that interestingly, after Pakistani government’s announcement, India was encouraged to enforce similar policy of enhanced PHW on cigarette packs and now as of June 2016, new enhanced PHW had started to appear on cigarette packs in India.
He said that Pakistan is home to approximately 19.1 million tobacco users, including 31.8% of males and 5.8% of females and tobacco harms the health, the treasury, and the spirit of citizens.
Khurram Hashmi said that the tobacco epidemic in Pakistan requires urgent attention.
He added tobacco companies use packaging as their major marketing tool to make tobacco appear appealing, while distracting consumers from the reality of how tobacco destroys health.
He said that pictorial health warnings on tobacco packages are a low-cost method of warning tobacco users and non-users about the harms of tobacco.
He said that WHO research shows that large graphic images on both sides of the pack are effective in increasing awareness of the harms of tobacco and motivate smokers to quit.
He said that Pakistan had signed and ratified the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004.
He said that the guidelines in Article 11 of the FCTC required that warnings appear on at least 50% of the front and back of the package.
The evidence from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) is that most tobacco users are unaware of the extent of harm caused by tobacco.
He said that CTC-Pak is a coalition of more than 250 civil society partners hailing from all four provinces and is working towards strengthening the development and implementation of tobacco control policies in the country.-APP