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April 9, 2019

Pakistan is 5th top tobacco producer in world


April 9, 2019

Islamabad: PML-N MNA Romina Khurshid Alam has said that we as responsible citizen and society should raise our voices and fight against tobacco menace as smoking is increasingly becoming a status symbol in our young generation, which is a disturbing reality.

The MNA was speaking at a high level roundtable meeting on ‘Warning on Tobacco Products --- Capacity Building within Legislative Framework,’ organised here by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). The meeting was attended by leading health experts, member of civil society, academia and media.

Ms Rumina stressed the need for raising awareness among the public at large and putting pressure on the government to implement the existing laws. She said Khalid Hussain Magsi, chairperson, Standing Committee on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination said that Pakistan is 5th top tobacco producer in the world which generate massive revenues for the country. However, there is no doubt that smoking is a silent killer where tobacco usage gradually impacts the health negatively. He stressed evolving consensus among all stakeholders on alternative crop production, where especially tobacco farmers should be offered and convinced of impressive alternative crop production options.

Parliamentary Secretary for National Health Services Dr Nausheen Hamid lamented the lack of implementation of existing laws on tobacco control where smoking in the hospitals of federal capital cannot be controlled. She told that the Speaker National Assembly has recently constituted a special committee on agriculture where they are trying to develop consensus on alternative crops and resolving the issues that afflicts the tobacco farmers and industry.

Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, executive director, SDPI, said there is lack of credible data availability especially on socio-economic health cost of tobacco product usage which is a gap in legislation and informed decision making. He said that SDPI can help the legislators in bridging this policy gap through scientific research on the alternative crop production options and use of advance technologies in the agriculture sector.

Waseem Iftekhar Janjua from SDPI said that Pakistan, since 2004, is signatory to Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and also issued multiple Statutory Regulatory Orders (SROs), made laws, put ban on advertisement and issued graphic health warnings, but lacks their implementations on ground. He said that Pakistan has not defined tobacco products and no laws exist to prohibit misleading tobacco product packaging and labeling including terms, descriptors, trademarks, or figurative or other signs. There is need of rotating the graphic/pictorial warning and enhancing the size of warning from 50 to 85 per cent on the tobacco products in order to raise awareness among public on the harmful impacts of tobacco products.

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