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Local cigarette companies playing with tobacco advertisement laws

Islamabad

May 30, 2019

Islamabad : Local cigarette companies have been found intensifying their advertisement campaign by displaying posters and banners outside shops in open violation of rules.

The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination SRO 1086 (1) 2013 prohibits advertisement campaigns outside shops.

According to details, Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non Smokers Health Ordinance 2002, Committee on tobacco advertisement guidelines notified under SRO 1005(I)/2013 and the SRO 1086 (1) 2013, no tobacco or tobacco product advertisement shall be allowed in print media, cinema, theatre, TV, radio along with advertisement through poster or banner made out of paper, plastic, cloth or any other material, affixed outside a shop, kiosk or mobile trolley. Laws also prohibits hard or soft on-store board or fascia affixed outside a shop, kiosk, or mobile trolley and through out of home billboard, whether fixed or mobile.

Article 11 awards punishment for violation of the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non Smokers Health Ordinance 2002, which may extend to one thousand rupees and in case of second or subsequent offence, with imprisonment of three month or with a fine not less than one hundred thousand rupees or both.

However, this law is being openly violated by local cigarette manufacturers and no action is visible anywhere in the country by the concerned authorities. Currently local cigarette manufacturers are doing illegal advertisement campaigns by placing posters, boards and branding material out of shops and kiosks.

According to health ministry officials, new law banning tobacco advertisement inside the shops is going to be introduced on 31st May, that is world no-tobacco day, while the law introduced six years back still awaits implementation in letter and spirit.

The ministry has not done anything concrete and on ground to enforce current laws related to tobacco advertisements, other than writing letters to the provinces.

Like every year, this year, too, the newly appointed Health Ministers/Advisors are focusing on introducing new laws, something that is expected from those who do not have an understanding on the subject or on health related matters. Similarly, the health authorities are also trying to please the anti-tobacco groups and different world organizations by announcing new laws while the older ones await an appropriate strategy and mechanism for effective implementation. However, much more is expected from the new and learned state minister on Health who should start holding the authorities responsible over non-implementation of current laws especially the Tobacco Control Cell, whose Director is much known for violation of Government laws himself.

Sources say the standing committees at National Assembly and Senate too are also showing indifference towards implementation of the laws.

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