Islamabad - The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC) on Friday issued directions to all federating units to ensure compliance with the tobacco laws .

An official said that the directions have been issued following the recommendations of Senate Standing Committee and all federal and provincial chief secretaries have requested to take necessary actions.

The relevant authorities have been requested to nominate and make public the name and phone number(s) of focal person(s) from all federal ministries and provincial departments who could take action on a complaint.

In letters issued to all federal secretaries and provincial chief secretaries, the Secretary, NHS 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, the letter quoted different sections of “The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smoker’s Health Ordinance, 2002“.

The letter requested 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 age of 18 years.

Secretaries have been requested to ensure ban on sale, storage and distribution of tobacco products within and 50 meter of the educational institutions. It has also been requested to display no smoking signs at all places of public use or work.

Since all officers in BPS 20 and above in the relevant Ministries/Departments are authorized persons to take action against the violators, so all the Secretaries have been requested to issue necessary directions to the relevant authorities to ensure compliance with the tobacco control laws and make public the name and phone number(s) of focal person(s) from their ministries / departments who could take action on a complaint.

The Supreme Court in a suo motu case on Tobacco Epidemic of Pakistan had issued the 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 30th September 2016 under the chair of Prime Minister.

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. This is 298 deaths per day. Enforcing existing tobacco control laws would be helpful in curbing tobacco epidemic and saving lives of people of Pakistan.