Anti-tobacco activists have demanded the government to implement plain packaging and move forward with the confidence that it can overcome any challenges thrown by tobacco industry in this regard.
They viewed this while addressing an online interactive session titled “Knowledge and fact sharing session on plain packaging for tobacco products” on Friday organized Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) held. According to the participants, plain packaging is a much-needed course of action required to reduce tobacco consumption along with measures related to graphic health warnings, advertising bans, higher tobacco taxes and 100 percent smoke-free laws. Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Representative, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) said that 16 countries have adopted tobacco plain packaging laws, and many other governments are in the process of formally considering the policy. However, Pakistan hasn’t made any progress in this regard.
He further added that tobacco companies have tried to influence policy making in several countries and strongly opposed plain packaging often through intimidating lawsuits. Yet till date, the tobacco industry has lost every legal battle against plain packaging in international and national courts. Mr. Sajjad Ahmed Cheema, Executive Director, SPARC, shared that according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2015, around 1,200 Pakistani children between the ages of 6-15 years start smoking every day. He also shared the findings of ‘Big Tobacco, Tiny Targets’ a 2018 study conducted by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), Human Development Foundation (HDF), and Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH). The report revealed that tobacco companies are promoting their products through catchy displays at points of sales around primary and secondary schools to target the youth.