Shahzad Ahmad

Lahore - The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday ordered the authorities concerned to fully implement the ban on smoking in public offices and educational institutions.

The order was passed by Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi. The petitioner through Azhar Siddique Advocate said that the ban on smoking in public offices and educational institutions was not being fully implemented. As a result, the people are falling prey to passive smoking, he added. He further said that smoking in public places increases health risks not only for smokers but also for the passers-by.

Non-compliance of the law in banks, public transport vehicles, universities and restaurants etc is alarmingly high. Thus, the government is required to modify and improve the tobacco control laws in the country in a bid to make them more effective.

The implementation of tobacco control law is poor in Pakistan, that is ranked 54th amongst 84 countries with high prevalence of tobacco smoking. In the country, tobacco is a cause of death of around 160,189 persons every year. Moreover, the economic cost of smoking amounted to Rs143.208 billion. “Almost 24 million (19.1 percent) adults currently used tobacco in any form in Pakistan,” Saira Afzal Tarar, the then minister for national health services, regulations and coordination, informed the Senate in last April. That accounted for 15.6 million (12.4pc) adults, who currently smoked tobacco and another 9.6 million (7.7pc) adults, who used smokeless tobacco (Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 2014).

The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers’ Health 2002 prohibits people to smoke or use tobacco in public places. It says, “No person shall smoke or use tobacco in any other form in any place of public work or use. The Federal Government may however issue guidelines for permitting designated smoking areas in premises or places where adequate arrangements are made to protect the health of non-smokers.”

The anti-smoking law also prohibits advertisement and the use of tobacco in public service vehicles and educational institutions.

“Notwithstanding anything contained n any other law for the time being in force, no person or company shall advertise tobacco and tobacco product on any medial or in any place and any public service vehicle, if such advertisement is not in accordance with guidelines prescribed for this purpose by a committee which the federal government may, by notification in the official Gazette, constitute.

It also prohibits display and exhibition board as well as storage, sale and distribution of cigarettes etc in the immediate vicinity of educational institutions.”

According to the law, no person shall himself or by any person on his behalf, store, sell or distribute cigarettes or any other smoking substance or any other tobacco product within 50 meters from any college, school or educational institution.

However, the cigarettes are easily available not only outside but also inside all the educational institutions particularly in colleges and universities.