Islamabad : The Coalition for Tobacco Control (CTC) Pakistan Tuesday backed the health minister’s call for implementing the law on the enlarged pictorial health warning (PHW) on packets of cigarettes.
“We are encouraged by the fact that the minister is proactively making efforts for implementing the law on tobacco control,” said Khurram Hashmi, National Coordinator for CTC Pakistan. “However, we will urge the government to implement the original decision of 85% PHW on the cigarette packs.”
In a letter to the chief ministers, Minister for National Health Services Amir Mehmood Kiani said the ministry, on December 19, 2017, prescribed new PHW on cigarette packets and outers. The letter said the PHW covers 50 per cent of front side and 50 per cent of rear side of cigarette packets and outers. The notification came into force from June 1, 2018. The letter added that the ministry has noticed violation of the notification and packets of cigarettes with no PHW or less than 50 per cent are available in the market. It added that some companies have printed PHW with distorted colour scheme.”
Kiani recalled that soon after assuming the ministry’s charge, he recommended scrapping of the third tier of excise duty on cigarettes. Though the government did not abolish the third tier, it increased the tax by 46%.
Under SROs 22(KE)/2015 and 23(KE)/2015, the size of the warning was to be increased to 85% both on front and back of cigarette packs. The 85% PHW size was to be effective from March 30, 2015 but was never implemented. Finally, the SRO 127(KE)/2017 was issued to amend the Cigarettes (Printing of Warnings) Rules, 2009 for to pictorial health warnings on 50% of the front and back of packs and outer packaging of cigarettes.
Khurram said, CTC Pakistan also backs the minister’s promise made at the health festival in Islamabad for further increasing taxes on tobacco products.