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October 10, 2019

Tobacco industry influencing policies on graphic warnings


October 10, 2019

Islamabad :Dr Minhaj us Siraj, Deputy Director General (Health), Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination has said that the tobacco industry is so powerful that they not only influence our policies significantly but are also successful in delaying cases in courts at domestic and international levels regarding Graphic Health Warning (GHW).

Dr Minhaj was addressing a seminar on ‘Defiant Tobacco Industry and Future of Graphic Health Warning’ organised here by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

Dr Minhaj said that the tobacco companies are only interested in maximising their profit while playing with the lives of our young generation.

He said that pendency of the case of GHW in Islamabad High Court for last almost 5 years is classic example of tobacco industry’s delaying tactics. He regretted that all segments of the society will have to fight together to help save the lives of our future generation from this menace.

Waseem Iftikhar Janjua from SDPI said that 160,100 people are killed due to use of tobacco products in Pakistan every year and over 24 million users continue to use tobacco products, smoking over 85 billion sticks every year. He said that to reduce and control the use of tobacco products, standardised plain packaging is an effective demand reduction measure that can reduce the attractiveness of tobacco products, limit misleading packaging and labelling, and increase the effectiveness of health warnings. He emphasised that plain packaging strips cigarette packs of all branding elements, including colours and logos, restricts use of tobacco advertising and promotion and only allows the health warning to be printed along with the legally mandated toxic constituents. He said the world has move towards plain packaging, whereas in Pakistan, plain packaging is not yet on our cards which should be considered as way forward.

Faraz Ahmed, Associate coordinator, Coalition for Tobacco Control-Pakistan (CTC-Pak) said that around 1.3 million people are in the tobacco industry and we need to seriously think about a viable alternatives for those who are associated with this industry for their livelihoods. He said plain packaging is a wonderful idea to keep away our young generation from smoking of tobacco products.

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