Pakistan wins WHO’s World No Tobacco Day 2021 Award
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean has announced World No Tobacco Day 2021 Award for Pakistan for its effective anti-tobacco steps, contrary to this achievement Pakistan disbands its Tobacco Control Cell and fires its head.
The brain behind this achievement of tobacco use reduction in the country, a former Head of the Tobacco Control Cell Pakistan and Country’s former focal person for FCTC Dr. Ziauddin Islam, has been terminated from his job which the activists believed was done on the behest of the powerful tobacco lobby in the country.
The WHO had called recently for nominations to the World No Tobacco Day Awards of individuals or organizations in each of the six WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control and outstanding contribution to tobacco control.
Dr Zia said that he and his team had worked for over ten years diligently to achieve this success, but this annoyed the powerful tobacco lobby in the country who succeeded in getting the Tobacco Control Cell disbanded.
He said the government would have to implement health levy to increase taxes on tobacco products to achieve the 30 percent tobacco use reduction target by 2025 and keep the current trend sustainable.
Dr Zia said the government should also take concrete steps to thwart the influence of tobacco lobby over the officials, so that taxes on the product should be increased significantly in the upcoming budget.
The WHO confirmed that the international award will be given to the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSR&C) on the occasion of ‘World No Tobacco Day – Commit to quit’ which will be observed on May 31 across the globe.
Secretariat of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) had already recognized the Smoke Free Islamabad model internationally through displaying the snapshot of SF Rose & Jasmin Public Park at title page of its annual report. As Pakistan is applauded for implementing the “M” measures (monitoring of tobacco use policies) in the MPOWER package to the highest level.
Pakistan has grabbed the global award after the significant work on tobacco control through policy making as the country has set a target of reducing the number of persons consuming tobacco products by up to 30 per cent by 2025 and successfully model of Tobacco-Smoke Free City project. Under the Tobacco-Smoke Free City project, the health authorities have established monitoring cells on the district level to implement steps for reducing tobacco consumption.
Pakistan has also made 304 localities and parks smoke-free in 12 different districts under the project, becoming the world’s first country to declare smoke-free public parks. Moreover, those selling tobacco products have also been registered under the Tobacco-Smoke Free City project.