Islamabad- The Government of Pakistan has recently introduced new regulations to further strengthen the existing regulations on tobacco advertising and promotion. The new regulations will be effective from the 31st of May, 2014. They include a complete ban on television and newspaper advertising as well as restriction on use of human or animal images and complete ban on advertising boards on the shops and hoardings. These new stringent laws and regulations are a step in the right direction to further discourage smoking and protect the youth of the country from irresponsible marketing tactics of some tobacco companies.

However what remains to be seen is whether these laws are going to be another few pages in the books of law or will the government actually take practical steps to enforce these regulations? Some tobacco companies have rampantly been running various illegal promotional campaigns which include consumer incentive schemes, cash rebates, and some have developed innovative ways of putting up their advertising materials on billboards and shop boards by merging the colors and logos of their brands which is a flagrant violation of these laws and regulations.

Nadeem Iqbal, Executive Director of the Network for Consumer Protection, welcomed the recent steps taken by Ministry of National Health Services to curb illegal promotional activities. He said that tobacco companies deployed innovative ways to flout the laws and regulations and did various promotional advertisement campaigns of their brands, which were clear violations of the government laws and guidelines.