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Tobacco control policy: Stakeholders ink consensual statement

By Bureau report
February 11, 2023

PESHAWAR: The stakeholders from the government and non-governmental organizations have signed a consensual statement to promote and prioritize tobacco control as public health priority through policy and reforms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

A press release said the understanding was reached at an event arranged by a Blue Veins organisation in collaboration with Tobacco Control Cell.

The event was attended by officials from the Health Department, Directorate General of Health Services, Elementary and Secondary Education, Higher Education Department, Excise and Taxation, Narcotics Control, Additional Commissioner Human Rights and Relief along with Additional Assistant Commissioners from Peshawar and Haripur, National Human Rights Institutions, Social Welfare Department, Child Welfare & Protection Commission, various private & government hospitals, academia, lawyers and civil society organizations.

Through the consensual agreement, the officials committed to reducing the burden of tobacco-related diseases and deaths in KP by implementing stronger regulations on the production, marketing, sale, and promotion of tobacco products, strategies to raise tobacco excise taxes annually and enforcing measures to ban tobacco at public places. The statement realized the need for international, national, and provincial level cooperation and support to address the global tobacco consumption issue effectively.

Those present there renewed the commitment to strengthen collaboration and make coordinated efforts by the government and non-governmental institutions to lead policy development, and reforms for tobacco control.

The stakeholders pledged to allocate human and financial resources for awareness and educational programs for the prevention of tobacco use among young people, support initiatives and evidence-based research on tobacco.

Ajmal Shah, Coordinator for the Tobacco Control Cell, said: “The Health Department is making all efforts to accelerate implementation to WHO FCTC [Framework Convention on Tobacco Control] but the area requires a multi-sectoral response. The commitment and engagement of stakeholders will be of great contribution to promoting effective laws, policy actions, and monitoring mechanisms for smoking restrictions and smoke-free public places.”

Appreciating the commitments, Ijaz Khan, chief of the Child Welfare & Protection Commission, said: “The use of tobacco at an early age is the main problem. The vast majority of tobacco users began when they were young. Smoking in movies, music videos, and advertising portrays tobacco use as a social norm, encouraging kids to smoke. When their parents use tobacco, they’re more likely to start the practice as well. We all need to make coordinated efforts to discourage all negative patterns and advertisements to end all forms of tobacco use”.

Sana Ahmad, Programme Coordinator, Blue Veins and Coordinator for the Child Rights Movement, said: “Civil Society of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will remain committed to protecting the health and well-being of citizens and future generations and discourage all forms of tobacco in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “Strategizing stakeholders’ engagement and partnership will remain a priority for us to transform the commitments into real examples in KP.”