ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for National Health Services Aamer Mehmood Kiani said that the ministry is making all efforts to make the capital a beautiful city of the world in terms of its ambience and healthy environment.

He was speaking on the occasion of declaring Pakistan Monument and Lok Virsa Complex ‘Tobacco smoke-free zones’, that was 214th public place stood smoke free in Islamabad Capital Territory.

A statement said that the minister added that healthy and smoke-free environment at public places, healthcare establishments, educational institutes and public transport is our collective responsibility, legal obligation and moral duty. It will be protecting our next generation from ill-health and indulging into risky behaviors for which smoking cigarettes, is a first step. Taking about burden of tobacco use in the country, the minister said that Pakistan was amongst the 15 countries of the world, which had heavy burden of tobacco-related ill health. According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 2014, about 24 million Pakistani adult population use tobacco in any form. Tobacco prevalence among youth is 10.7%. Tobacco is killing around 160,100 Pakistanis every year. Tobacco Control Cell of the health ministry is taking demand and supply reduction measures to reduce prevalence of tobacco use in the country. In this regard, significant efforts have been made for tobacco control in Pakistan like banning sale of cigarettes in loose form, notifying 60% size pictorial health warning on cigarette packs, banning import of ‘sheesha’.

The minister further said that the government had started the initiative of ‘Tobacco smoke free capital’ towards the goal of protecting our population and prevention from deadly diseases like cancer. Country office of World Health Organisation and International Atomic Energy Agency are constantly providing us the technical support and this activity has made its impressions on International Community of Public Health due to its innovative approaches. He further said that Ministry of NHSRC is in process of developing a “National Cancer Control Plan” in consultation with all stakeholders and smoke free environments at public places and public transport is one large building block in the complete edifice of Cancer Prevention and Control. He informed that Pakistan Medical and Dental Council will develop the subject of “Health Hazards of Tobacco use” in the Basic Medical Education.

Earlier, Dr Minhaj ur Siraj, Project Director, Tobacco Smoke Free Capital gave a detailed presentation on the initiative. Dr Foaud Aslam, Technical Advisor, Bloomberg Initiative also spoke on the occasion.