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Stakeholders pledge commitment to tobacco control initiatives

By Bureau report
April 18, 2023

PESHAWAR: Stakeholders at a consultation on Monday pledged commitment to tobacco control initiatives by signing a consensual statement.

The statement emphasized the need to address newer nicotine products, in addition to traditional tobacco. The signatories vowed to work collaboratively to ensure the successful implementation of these efforts for a healthier society.

The pledge was made at the stakeholders’ engagement meeting that discussed and strategized for the implementation of the tobacco-free cities. Participants included representatives from the KP Tobacco Control Cell, Federal Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of National Health Services, Health Services Reforms Unit of the KP Health Department, human rights institutions, line departments, media, civil society organizations and representatives of the district administration.

The meeting was aimed at drawing up a collaborative and comprehensive plan to combat the adverse effects of tobacco consumption on public health, the environment, and the economy. The participants emphasized the importance of working together to develop effective policies and actions for a tobacco-free KP.

It is worth mentioning here that Peshawar and Abbottabad districts of KP were officially declared tobacco-free. This achievement reflected the collaborative efforts of stakeholders to promote a healthier environment for the community.

KP Special Secretary of Health Abidullah Kakakhel said: “This multi-stakeholder engagement is a crucial step towards achieving our goal of making KP a tobacco-free province. We can implement stronger policies to protect our citizens and create a healthier environment by working together.”

Qamar Naseem, Program Manager, Blue Veins, said: “A policy framework is imperative to address the challenges posed by newer tobacco products, ensuring that our society remains vigilant and proactive in the fight against the ever-evolving landscape of tobacco consumption and its impact on public health.”

Ajmal Shah, Project Coordinator, KP Tobacco Control Cell, highlighted the importance of a collaborative approach. He said: “The devastating effects of tobacco consumption cannot be curtailed by a single organization or department. It requires the collective efforts of all stakeholders, including government, non-government organizations, and civil society, to create a tobacco-free society.”

There was a call for aligning tobacco control efforts at both federal and provincial levels, ensuring a unified and coherent approach across Pakistan. “Collaboration between federal and provincial entities is a must in making Pakistanis a tobacco-free nation. Our joint efforts will ensure the successful implementation of policies and programs aimed at reducing tobacco consumption and protecting the health of our citizens,” stated Naeem Akhtar, National Focal Person at the Federal Tobacco Control Cell.

The human rights institutions representatives emphasized the right to health and the need for comprehensive tobacco control measures to uphold this fundamental right.“ The right to health is enshrined in our constitution. Ensuring a tobacco-free environment is a vital part of upholding this right, and we must work together to make it a reality,” said Rizwanullah, Coordinator for the National Commission for Human Rights.