Sindh High Court upholds ban on tobacco products advertisements

March 28, 2016

 Islamabad, 28-03-2016: In a major victory for anti-tobacco activists across the country and the Government, the Sindh High Court has upheld ban on tobacco advertisements throughout Pakistan.   The legislation on ban on advertisements of tobacco products was challenged by M/s Philip Morris (Pakistan), a major tobacco manufacturer, in Sindh High Court. The Sindh High Court last week disposed of the petition filed by M/s Philip Morris (Pakistan) challenging ban on advertisements of Tobacco products in print, electronic an outdoor media.

 

The divisional bench of Sindh High Court comprising of Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Abdul Malik Gaddi allowed a request by Abdul Sattar Pirzada advocate, Counsel for the petitioner to withdraw the petition. It is significant to mention that Philip Morris (Pakistan) had also   challenged the legality and authority of the federal government to regulate tobacco control in  the country.

In accordance with SRO issued by Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, no tobacco or tobacco product advertisement is allowed in print, electronic and outdoor media. Moreover, posters of tobacco products outside the shops, kiosiks have been banned.

 

The Ministry’s Tobacco Control Cell was trying its best with meager resources to manage and clear the impediment in the implementation of above-mentioned guidelines. The Cell had also requested the Supreme Court of Pakistan to issue directions to Sindh High Court to decide the case at earliest. The apex court directed the Sindh High Court to decide the case in two months. The civil Society working for tobacco control in Pakistan also played an important role by becoming party in the case.

 

By giving an undertaking in Court, Phillip Morris agreed to dismantle tobacco product advertisement in two weeks’ time.

 

The landmak verdict will be a major boost towards efforts to protect youth from initiating smoking, who are lured in tobacco smoking through attractive tobacco advertisments.

 

Following the verdict, The Ministry’s Tobacco Control Cell is in the process of writing to the provinces to accelerate implementation of the ban on tobacco advertisments and initiate action in this regard.