World No Tobacco Day 2016

May 31, 2016

Islamabad, 31-5-2016: Minister, National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar, said that Pakistan is implementing tax and price policies on tobacco products as a way to reduce tobacco consumption. In this regard, Tobacco Control Cell formed a technical working group on tobacco taxation. Experts from Federal Board of Revenue, The Union, World Health Organization, World Bank and Tobacco Control Cell are members of the working group. ). For the Federal Budget 2016-17, this Ministry has also sent recommendations to Ministry of Finance to increase taxes on tobacco products and earmark tobacco tax revenue for Prime Ministers Health Program for treatment of NCDS. The target is to increase tobacco taxation to the minimum level of 70% as recommended by WHO. While She was addressing  this while speaking to gathering of seminar conducted to commemorate World No Tobacco Day, 2016.


She told that Ministry banned tobacco and tobacco products advertisements in print, electronic and outdoor media. This legislation was challenged in Sindh High Court by a renowned tobacco company, but they had to withdraw the petition against the arguments of the Ministry.This Ministry has not contacted the provincial governments to implement the legislation in the light of the directions of Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan in a  Suo Motu case on tobacco epidemic in Pakistan.


Minister said the participants that Tobacco Control Cell used multifarious strategies to warn masses about dangers of tobacco use and capacity building of provincial and district law enforcers. Recently, Tobacco Control Cell finished first of its kind national anti-tobacco mass media campaign to focus on the health harms of tobacco. Tobacco Control Cell will continue ongoing awareness and capacity building activities as a demand reduction measure for tobacco control. Tobacco Control Cell coordinated with provincial governments to create provincial setup on tobacco control. Resultantly, provincial tobacco control cells have been created in KPK and Balochistan. Same has been promised by Punjab and Sindh.


Speaking on the pictorial health warning issue, she said that Tobacco Control Cell notified new pictorial health warning in 2015 and enhanced the size to 85% of cigarette pack on both sides. Later on, an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) was formed to review the impact of pictorial health warning on revenue & smuggling and to consult with stakeholders regarding implementation issues.The Committee recommended to adopt phased approach i.e.  PHW to be increased by 10% from 1st June, 2016 and further be increased by 10% on 1st June, 2017 or 5% on 1st June, 2017 and another 5% on 1st June, 2018. In the third year of the decision, a survey to assess the impact of pictorial health warning on revenue & smuggling will be conducted. After reviewing the result of the survey, further decision will be made.Meanwhile, two petitions were filed in Islamabad High Court against the decision of the Committee. This Ministry is respondent in the case.The recommendations could not be implementeddue to sub-judice matter. She assured that this Ministry will take every step to implement FCTC provisions.


On this occasion, WR-WHO read the message of Regional Director EMRO for World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), 2016. Mr. Shahzad Alam from WHO highlighted the importance of theme of WNTD. Dr. Huma Qureshi, ED PHRC stressed on the importance of research in tobacco control especially for evidence based decision making in tobacco control. Mr. Muhammad Waqas Tarar, Director (TCC)told the participants about the measures taken to increase taxes on tobacco products. Dr. Ziuddin from Tobacco Control Cell highlighted the measures taken by this Ministry to control the epidemic of tobacco use in Pakistan. Dr. Muhammad Arshad, Assistant Professor, Holy Family hospital enlightened the participants about hazardous effects of tobacco use on Nose, Ear and Throat.