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June 11, 2020

Steps to implement WHO protocol for tobacco control stressed

Islamabad

June 11, 2020

Islamabad : The Ministry of National Health Services is yet to take measures for implementation of World Health Organization (WHO) Framework on Tobacco Control in order to curb tobacco consumption in Pakistan.

Dr Muhammad Zaman said multinational tobacco companies have found a way of increasing their profits because of the slow implementation of FCTC. “And yet the ministry still has not pushed for the implementation of sin tax and to increase the warnings on tobacco packs,” an official at health ministry said. He also stated that the plan to spend the revenue generated from increased taxation on tobacco on health services is still in the pipeline. “As the ministry did not pursue this case, the FBR paid no attention to realizing it,” he said.

Furthermore, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr. Zafar Mirza said in a recent statement that nearly 8 million people are killed by the tobacco epidemic every year. He said, “More than 7 million die due to direct smoking, while 1.2 million become a victim to second-hand smoking. Low and middle-income countries are the targets of more than 80% of tobacco-induced preventable deaths”. “Tobacco claims 160,000 lives in Pakistan annually and remains one of the serious challenges in the face of public health. Moreover, 1,200 Pakistani children, aged between 6-15 start smoking daily,” he said.

The health ministry is obligated to develop strategies to protect the health of the people from tobacco under the FCTC – an international treaty to which Pakistan is a signatory.

In order to make the tobacco control efforts sustainable in Pakistan, the health ministry has developed a draft policy in coordination with the provinces, he had said. “Our Ministry has tabled a promising tobacco taxation reform proposal in the upcoming budget which seeks Rs 24 billion in additional tax revenue, which will then be used in health-related facilities,” the SAPM said. He also added, “I am pleased to share that we successfully implemented a ‘Smoke Free Islamabad Model’ through 85% compliance of tobacco control laws. All public parks, high-rise buildings, food outlets and public transport are smoke-free in Islamabad. This model has also been replicated in five model districts. This model has also been acknowledged by the WHO”.