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Ban on online advertisement of tobacco products hailed

By Our Correspondent
February 12, 2020

Islamabad : The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) organised a session to encourage ban on advertisement of tobacco products here on Tuesday.

This session was organised to brief the journalists about the recent ban imposed by government on online advertisement of tobacco products, displaying power walls and posters at their sale points.

Dr. Naushen Hamid, Federal Parliamentary Secretary, Federal Ministry of National Health, said that health is top priority of the government and no one, under no circumstances, will be allowed to jeopardize the health of our children and youth.

Senator Barrister Ali Saif appreciated the decision by government and ensured his full commitment to this cause to safeguard the Pakistani youth from harms of tobacco.

Malik Imran Ahmad of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Pakistan Office, welcomed the decision by government.

He said big tobacco industry has made huge profits at the expense of health of Pakistani Citizens. A major cause of this has been the leniency in the law regarding advertising of tobacco products.

He said the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance 2002, imposed a ban on advertisement of tobacco products in print and electronic media.

However, the ordinance allowed display power walls and posters of tobacco products at the point of sale. Due to this, the sale of tobacco products remained alarmingly high.

Sajjad Ahmed Cheema, Executive Director, SPARC, said that youth is the prime target group for tobacco industry. 1200 children start smoking daily in Pakistan.

"A huge proportion of the middle school, college and university students have access to internet and online shopping portals. These portals are selling tobacco products online which has contributed to spreading the menace of tobacco in our youth," he said.

Talking about power walls and posters at point of sale, Col (r) Azhar Saleem, CEO, Human Development Foundation, said that on instruction of tobacco industry, the vendors put tobacco products at cash counters at eye level of children to attract them towards their products. The ban on power walls and posters at point of sale will help in reducing these tactics, he said.

Ch. Sanaullah Ghuman, Secretary General, Pakistan National Heart Association (PANHA) stressed upon the need of strict implementation of the law.

He said the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance 2002 bans vendors from selling and promoting tobacco products within 50-meter radius of educational institutions. However, the implementation of the law is minimal.

The session was followed by an interactive question answer session that revealed many alarming facts about deceptive promotional and advertisement tactics of tobacco industry.