Islamabad - Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has asked all the provincial governments to ensure implementation on anti-smoking laws, said an official.

All the four provincial governments including Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Baluchistan have been issued notification by the Minister NHS Saira Afzal Tarar, the official said.

According to notification available with The Nation, fresh directions have been passed to provinces in compliance of federal cabinet meeting held in the month of September 2016, which had been headed by Prime Minister (PM).

The ministry notified that violations of tobacco control laws have been observed across the country and all provincial governments must ensure strict compliance with the existing anti-smoking law.

According to section-5 of ‘The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of non-Smoker’s Health Ordinance, 2002’, all places of public work or use and public service vehicles are completely tobacco smoke-free.

Section-8 of the law prohibits sale of cigarettes and other smoking substance to persons under age of 18 years and section-09 bans sale, storage and distribution of tobacco products within and 50 meter of the educational institutions.

According to section-10, it is obligatory to display no smoking signs at all places of public use or work.

The law also authorized police officials to take action against violators.

“It will be highly appreciated if necessary directions are issued to the relevant authorities to ensure strict compliance with the existing tobacco control laws,” states notification.

All chief ministers have been addressed in the letter.

Supreme Court of Pakistan, in suo moto 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. 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 in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, “Ensuring that all children are vaccinated and protected from life-threatening diseases is a top priority of the Pakistan government,” the State Minister Saira Afzal Tarar, said in her remarks to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, High Level Mission.

The minister said Pakistan EPI is moving towards the integration of technology and its functional use in immunization for the service delivery and data management for effective program management.

The minister said cold chain capacity was also one of the critical challenges; Pakistan conducted a nationwide cold chain inventory assessment and through National Immunization Support Program funding and Gavi support the cold chain will be upgraded.

Federal Secretary NHSR&C highlighted last year’s achievements by the Expanded Program on Immunization with special focus on the rigorous efforts for getting the PC-Is approved from various forums and finally ECNEC.

Dr Timothy G Evans of the World Bank said National Immunization Support Project (NISP) is a key intervention to strengthen the health system for routine immunization.

National Inter-Agency Coordination Committee also allocated Rs 500 million shifting the EPI budget from the development to recurrent side.