The members of civil society urged upon the government to enhance graphic health warning on cigarette packs
Islamabad (Pakistan Point News / Online - 05th December, 2019) The members of civil society urged upon the government to enhance graphic health warning on cigarette packs.This was said in a joint press conference here at National Press Club here on Thursday held by Human Development Foundation (HDF), Society for the Protection of the Rights of Child (SPARC), Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) and Incision Films.The press conference was held after Islamabad high court hearing on the issue of 85% graphic health warning on cigarette packs, in which the court gave Ministry of Health two weeks to take the decision whether to implement or rescind the notification.
During the hearing Ministry of Health even admitted of being susceptible to the pressures from the Tobacco industry lobby groups.According to the existing law the graphic health warning must be 60% of the pack size. The increases in size was announced in an SRO in 2017 that replaced the 2015 notification that would have increased the size to 85% of packaging. The health advocates emphasized that the pack warning size in Pakistan is still less than other countries in the region.
Nepal has 95% pack warning size, India is at 85% while Sri Lanka has 80% size. Pack warning play a role in deterring any potential smokers and also reflect a country's commitment to public health policies.HDF and its partners urge the government to enhance graphic health warning on cigarette packs. The recent case hearing in Islamabad High Court hearing shows that the government has repeatedly been under the strong influence of tobacco industry, putting the public health advocates and anti-tobacco lobby to worry that it will happen again if no concrete steps are taken.
It is the duty of the government bodies to make policies and laws in the greater interest of its citizens, keeping their public health as a top priority.Azhar Saleem, CEO HDF, stated that graphic health warning on cigarette packs is a proven and cost effective measure to create mass awareness and reduce tobacco consumption. The significance of these health warnings have been proven through different research studies that show a reduction in consumption rate and intent to quit smoking altogether.
Malik Imran, country representative of CTFK, said that Tobacco Industry is actively strategizing to counter the tobacco control measures and influences government departments who work for tobacco control. He stated that other countries in Asia are effortlessly working to enhance the graphic health warning on cigarette packs whereas we are still under the influence of tobacco industry.Sanaullah Ghumman, General Secretary of PANAH, stated that it is very necessary to create awareness among general public about the health hazards of tobacco consumption.
He said that tobacco consumption causes cardiovascular, pulmonary diseases and different types of cancers which increases the burden on health and economy of a country.Sajjad Cheema, Executive Director SPARC, stated that tobacco consumption starts at an early age, mostly among children. Along with strict control measure that bans sale of cigarettes to minors, we need to focus on advocating for enhanced graphic health warnings on cigarette packs. Through these graphic health warnings we can sensitize masses on the health hazards of first hand and second hand smoking.