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National action plan for tobacco control demanded

The civil society organisations on Thursday called for the formulation of a national action plan for the strict countrywide enforcement of anti-smoking laws and establishment of provincial tobacco control cells.

They also urged the federal and provincial governments to strictly enforce laws against smoking in the country.

The call was given during a ceremony held at the Peshawar Press Club to launch the report of a survey on the ‘status of enforcement of tobacco control laws in Pakistan.

The report was compiled by the Coalition for Tobacco Control.

CSOs also call for strict enforcement of anti-smoking laws

Basic Integrated Rural Development Society chief executive Dr Riaz Yousafzai said smoking was the single largest preventable cause of deaths and that the use of tobacco even in small quantity was injurious to health.

He said there was a need to motivate the people against the consumption of tobacco.

Dr Riaz said he was concerned about the growing trend of smoking among adolescents and women.

He regretted that though laws were made against the use of smokeless tobacco in the country, their implementation was very poor.

“There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoking. Both active and passive smokers are fast becoming the victims of dangerous diseases of lung, including cancer, tuberculosis, heart and liver.

The BIRDS chief said some multinational tobacco firms openly flouted the ordinance on smoking and the Supreme Court’s strict orders against the use of tobacco and that they used ‘all possible means’ to make the people addicted to tobacco.

He said the advertisements and youth-targeted marketing were the major tools of the tobacco industry to reach the people.

Dr Riaz said the incidence of tobacco smoking was fast increasing in the country due to the inefficiency of the relevant authorities.

He said all public places and public transport vehicles should be declared smoke-free, while anti-tobacco laws should be effectively enforced across the country.

The BIRDS chief urged the media to play its due role to create public awareness of the harms of smokeless tobacco on health.

He said his organisation in assistance with the CTC had compiled a consolidated survey report on the use of tobacco in 23 cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s 18 districts.

Dr Riaz said the survey revealed that the rate of tobacco smokers in Peshawar was high due to the poor enforcement of the relevant laws.

Another civil society activist, Qasim Khawaja, complained that the authorities concerned had yet to ensure that cigarette sellers comply with the rules in the province.

He said multinational tobacco companies had engaged youths to sell their products.

Mr Qasim suggested the formulation of a national action plan for the strict implementation of anti-smoking laws and establishment of provincial tobacco control cells with adequate financial and human resources at their disposal to further the cause of tobacco control in collaboration with civil society.

Bureau Report. National action plan for tobacco control demanded. Dawn, April 14, 2017.

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