Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar Thursday asked the provincial governments to take steps for ensuring compliance of tobacco control laws in best public interest. Following the directions of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, she wrote separate letters to the provincial chief ministers raising the issue of violations of tobacco control laws across the country, a press release said.
In this context, she quoted different sections of ‘The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smoker’s Health Ordinance, 2002′. She highlighted the need to ensure that all places of public work and public service vehicles should be completely tobacco smoke-free.
Similarly, there should be no sale of cigarettes and other smoking substances to persons under age of 18 years. The provinces had been asked to ensure ban on sale, storage and distribution of tobacco products up to 50 meters radius of the educational institutions and to display no smoking signs at conspicuous places at public places or work places.
Since all police officers (assistant sub inspector and above) were authorized to take action against the infringers, so necessary directions should be issued to the relevant authorities to ensure compliance of the tobacco control laws.
The Supreme Court in Suo Moto Case on Tobacco Epidemic of Pakistan, had issued directions to ensure compliance of ‘The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smoker’s Health Ordinance, 2002′. These directions were issued to all provincial chief secretaries.
Tobacco use is single largest preventable cause of death in the world. In Pakistan, tobacco is a cause of death of around 108,800 persons every year which comes as 298 deaths per day. Enforcing existing tobacco control laws would be helpful in curbing tobacco epidemic in Pakistan.