Islamabad - Contesting the viewpoint of tobacco industry over the health ministry’s decision to increase the graphical health warning on cigarette packs, a rights group has said that the government needs to further promote and take all initiatives that could discourage tobacco smoking, which is the cause of many human diseases. Most recently, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has received a letter from the tobacco industry wherein it was warned about a major shortfall in revenue collection and increase cigarettes smuggling in case new graphical health warning (GHW) on cigarette packs is adopted.  “The communication is self-contradictory as on one hand, it says the new GHW will have negative impact on revenue collection but at the same time it admits that GHW makes little difference in overall tobacco consumption stating,” reveals a letter written by TheNetwork, a consumer rights group, to the FBR while contesting the tobacco industry’s letter.

There is no consistent and credible evidence that extra large GHWs will have any discernible impact on reducing or discouraging tobacco use, the group said.

The pictorial health warning has nothing to do with smuggling of illicit tobacco. Smuggling is an enforcement issue and should be seen in isolation from tobacco consumption, it explained

As far as jurisdiction of provinces on the subject of health, this is not an issue that falls within the jurisdiction of the FBR, it said adding it seems the industry has generated this debate only to divert the attention of the authorities and to delay regulations in this context, the group maintained.