Total ban on harmful practices, products still a distant dream

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Staff Reporter

Though the specific initiatives such as ban on plastic bags, and the sale of loose and smuggled cigarettes to underage, and ‘no helmet – no fuel (for motorcyclists)’ taken recently to ensure public health and preserve environment, have yielded some positive results, yet their full implementation is still a far cry.
The bans on detrimental products and practices remained in the pipeline or enforced for short times by the past regimes and then abandoned due to vested interests. The incumbent government, however, seems to be serious in their enforcement for the public health, particularly the youth, besides checking environmental degradation.
The local administrations of twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi were needed to revise their execution strategies to achieve complete ban on the prohibited items and acts, through strict implementation of the rules and regulations.
Senior lawyer Hafiz Khurram Khalid, while talking to media on Sunday, said the government had outlawed the sale of loose cigarettes across the country in 2018 keeping in view the move’s high success rate in the western countries and some regional states like Nepal.
The consumption of tobacco at public place, the sale of cigarettes to the underage, and the distribution, sale and storage of tobacco products within 50-meter radius of educational institutions were banned under the ‘Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance, 2002, he said.
A senior citizen Iqbal Khan, resident of Sector G-8, said shopkeepers in the capital’s markets and rural areas were openly violating the law by selling loose cigarettes.
“We are committed to save our generations from the use of the illicit substance (tobacco) that is playing havoc with the lives of our youth,” Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Hamza Shafqaat said while responding to the queries about weak enforcement of the anti-tobacco laws in the federal capital.
He said the ICT (Islamabad Capital Territory) administration was utilizing its all resources to get the law implemented. Some 40 kiosks had been closed down in the Sector H- 8 in the recent crackdown against the violators, he added.
Hamza said the administration had stepped up its efforts to sensitize the parents, teachers and citizens to keep the youth at bay from smoking, which was claiming 160, 000 lives every year.
He claimed that the ‘No Helmet-No Fuel’ initiative had achieved the purpose as around 80 per cent reduction in head injuries involving bikers was witnessed after its strict implementation.
“Ninety-nine per cent ban on the use of polythene plastic bag is being observed in the markets and Baazars of Islamabad,” he asserted when asked about the reported use of the product in the city.
Journalist Umer Khan, however, said the bans on kite flying and sale of fuel to bikers without helmet and the recent one on the use of polythene bags had been meeting some resistance from the public particularly on the outskirts of the cities.