In accordance with directions of the Senate Standing Committee, Ministry of National Health Services Regulation & Coordination (MNHSR) has requested all federal secretaries and provincial chief secretaries to issue directions to relevant authorities to ensure compliance with tobacco control laws. The NHS Ministry took this belated move after Pakistan’s Parliament took notice of the frequent violation of the tobacco control laws. The provincial chief secretaries and federal secretaries have also been requested to nominate and make public, the name and phone numbers of focal persons from all federal ministries and provincial departments who could take action on a complaint. In letters issued to the said secretaries, Secretary Health Naveed Kamran Baloch has raised the issue of violations of tobacco control laws as discussed in the Senate Standing Committee meeting held on October 31, 2017. In this context, he quoted different sections of The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smoker’s Health Ordinance, 2002. He requested them to ensure that all places of public work or use and public service vehicles should be completely tobacco smoke-free. Similarly, there should be no sale of cigarettes and other smoking substance to persons under 18 years of age. Secretaries have been requested to ensure ban on sale, storage and distribution of tobacco products within 50 meter of the educational institutions and to ensure that no smoking signs are displayed at all places of public use or work.
Since all officers in BPS 20 and above in the relevant ministries/departments are authorized to take action against violators, the secretaries have been requested to issue necessary directions to relevant authorities to ensure compliance with tobacco control laws and make public, the name and phone numbers of focal persons from their ministries and departments who could take action on a complaint. It is pertinent to mention that the Supreme Court of Pakistan, in a suo moto case on tobacco epidemic of Pakistan, had issued directions to ensure compliance with The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smoker’s Health Ordinance, 2002. These directions were issued to all provincial chief secretaries. Same directions were issued by the Federal Cabinet, in its meeting held on September 30, 2016. Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of death in the world. In Pakistan, it kills around 108,800 persons every year, meaning 298 deaths per day. Enforcing existing tobacco control laws can help curb the tobacco epidemic and save lives.