The worldwide tobacco control race is on. If Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif enforces his two-year old decision of raising Graphic Health Warning size to 85pc on cigarette packs, Pakistan will matches India in South Asia, surpasses Sri Lanka and will be a little behind Nepal (90pc).
These startling facts were revealed by tobacco control activists –TheNetwork for Consumer Protection and Coalition for Tobacco Control (CTC)- during a press conference organized on the eve of 2nd anniversary of the PM’s decision to enforce 85pc GHW i.e. March 30, 2015. At that time, the premiere’s decision was announced by Ms Saira Afzal Tarar, Minister of State for National Health Services Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC).
Nadeem Iqbal, CEO of TheNetwork for Consumer Protection while replying to the queries of the media said the PM would kill two birds if he implements the long-awaited decision. He will not only be called an international public health leader but will also be seen as one who is serious in lessening the disease burden caused by tobacco. Currently tobacco-related diseases are claiming 300 lives daily in Pakistan.
Nadeem said that Pakistan had shown exemplary commitment to tobacco control in the last couple of years, however still there is a long way to go.
According to Khurram Hashmi, , the National Coordinator of CTC-Pak, “We declared ban on sheesha smoking and restricted tobacco products advertisements. Pakistan announced the new 85% GHW that would’ve put us among the top 4 countries in the world including Nepal, India, and Thailand all from the South Asia region. However, after two years, we are still waiting for the enforcement of this new enhanced warning on cigarette packs,” said he.