Plain packaging of tobacco products stressed

July 11, 2020

Islamabad : Anti-tobacco activists have called for the plain packaging of cigarettes and asked the government not to give in to the pressure of the tobacco industry in this regard.According to them,...

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Islamabad : Anti-tobacco activists have called for the plain packaging of cigarettes and asked the government not to give in to the pressure of the tobacco industry in this regard.

According to them, plain packaging is a much-needed the course of action required to reduce tobacco consumption along with measures related to graphic health warnings, advertising bans, higher tobacco taxes and 100 percent smoke-free laws.

The activists attended an online session organised by the Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) here on Friday.

Country representative of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids Malik Imran Ahmed said 16 countries had adopted tobacco plain packaging laws, while many other governments were in the process of formally considering the policy.

He, however, said Pakistan hadn’t made any progress in this regard.

Malik Imran said tobacco companies have tried to influence policymaking in several countries and strongly opposed plain packaging often through intimidating lawsuits. Yet till date, the tobacco the industry has lost every legal battle against plain packaging in international and national courts.

Executive Director of SPARC Sajjad Ahmed Cheema said according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2015, around 1,200 Pakistani children between the ages of 6-15 years start smoking every day.

He also shared the findings of ‘Big Tobacco, Tiny Targets’ a 2018 study conducted by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), Human Development Foundation (HDF), and Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH).

The report revealed that tobacco companies are promoting their products through catchy displays at points of sales around primary and secondary schools to target the youth.

Khalil Ahmed, manager of SPARC Smoke-Free Cities the project, highlighted the benefits of plain packaging according to evidence collected by the World Health Organisation (WHO) from across the world.

He said plain packaging minimized the use of tobacco in youth by reducing the attractiveness of tobacco products and eliminated the dangerous effects of tobacco packaging as a form of advertising and promotion.

"Plain packaging increases the effectiveness of health warning that people often ignore due to product branding on the packets," he said.



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