Human Rights

Civil Society lambasts govt for easing restrictions on tobacco products

Peshawar: The Provincial Alliance for Sustainable Tobacco Control Khyber Pakhtunkhwa shared their concerns and rejected the Federal government’s move to allow the sale of E-heated tobacco products and to reduce the pictorial warnings on cigarette boxes by 30 percent.

According to the Alliance members, Pakistan is set to waste 2 decades of dedicated efforts, millions of donors’ funding, and the country’s pride in “Tobacco Control” by allowing Heated Tobacco Products to be legalized through a regulatory framework that will additionally allow billions of rupees tax evasion. The Alliance members strongly emphasize that there could be no policies made against public health.

In a recent move, the Federal Ministry of Health through an SRO is preparing to allow the sale of Heated Tobacco products and reduce the pictorial warnings from 60 to 30%. While the neighboring country India has banned all E-cigs, Pakistan is set to legalize Heated Tobacco Products despite of having no conclusive evidence favoring these products over other tobacco products.

The electronic cigarette is an electronic device that heats a substance, with or without nicotine and flavors to create an aerosol for inhalation and includes all forms of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, Heat Not Burn Products, e-Hookah, and other likely devices, found with divergent names, shapes, size or forms.

The Alliance of Sustainable Tobacco Control demands a ban on the production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage, and advertising of these products in the interest of public health, to protect the people from harm.

With the approval of heated tobacco products, the SRO is also prepared to make the pictorial warning against the law 30% instead of 60%, which is against the WHO recommendations. According to WHO, effective warning labels should be large, clear, and rotating, cover at least 50% of the tobacco pack, and consist of text and graphic images.

Qamar Naseem, a civil society activist working to improve tobacco control in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa says, “Pakistan signed the Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004, and in terms of its guidelines, signatories are duty-bound to increase excise duty on cigarettes by up to 70% and impose pictorial health warnings covering up to 85% of cigarette packs.”

“The new heated tobacco device causes the same damage to lung cells as e-cigs and smoking.” he added.

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