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December 13, 2018

Speakers for developing policies to control tobacco


December 13, 2018

Islamabad : Regional Advisor Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Fatimah Elawa on Wednesday urged for making joint efforts for protecting public health policies with respect to tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of tobacco industry.

Addressing the concluding session of national workshop on tobacco industry interference and alternative products, she said that countries should formulate, adopt and implement a code of conduct besides developing policies for implementation of public health policies with respect to tobacco control. She said that countries should have effective measures to prohibit contributions from the tobacco industry or any entity working to further its interests to concerned people.

She added countries should not endorse, support or form partnerships with or participate in activities of tobacco industry described as social responsibility. She said that youth and women are the prime target of tobacco industry.

He emphasized on introducing plain packaging on cigarette packs in Pakistan and suggested to implement WHO Best Buys to reduce tobacco use.

National Professional Office non communicable diseases (NCDs) and Tobacco Control WHO Shahzad Alam Khan said that estimates show that over 225,000 people die of tobacco-related diseases per year in Pakistan in addition, the second hand smoke takes a toll of around 40,000 annually.

He said that the prevalence of tobacco product use in Pakistan is very high (19.1 per cent) particularly among men (31.8 per cent) and women (5.8 per cent).

As many as 70 per cent people in Pakistan fall prey to second-hand smoke at indoor workplace which is equally damaging. He said that youth and women are the prime target of tobacco industry as findings from the Global Youth Tobacco Survey revealed that 13.3 per cent boys and 6.6% girls (aged 13-15 years) currently use tobacco.

He said that about 24 million adults currently use tobacco in any form in Pakistan. The youth of Pakistan were being targeted by the tobacco industry so that replacement smokers could be recruited, he added. He said that WHO Best Buys provide the best way out to reduce tobacco use with strategies including increase excise taxes and prices on tobacco products, implementing plain or standardized packaging and large graphic health warnings on all tobacco packages.

He said that other tobacco control initiative including enacting and enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, eliminating exposure to second hand smoke in all indoor workplaces, public places and public transport, implementing effective mass media campaigns that educate the public about the harms of smoking tobacco use and second hand smoke and promoting physical activity.

He said We should join hands to counter tobacco industry’s tactics and say no to tobacco and alternate tobacco products. Project Manager, Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of National Health Services Muhammad Javed said that Pakistan has signed and ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and has taken key steps to control tobacco use.

He said that the Ministry has sensitized the health departments on article 5.3 of FCTC. Consultative workshops were conducted at provincial level in collaboration with WHO while tobacco industry has been ousted from all committees formed for tobacco control.

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