FAISALABAD - Tobacco Control Law are being swirled up in smoke in Pakistan as more than 100,000 Pakistanis die due to tobacco related diseases annually while around 1,200 youngsters start smoking every day in the country.
Addressing a seminar on “Role of Media for Advancing Tobacco Control” Dr Hussan Mehmood, Project Coordinator, The Network for Consumer Protection, said that the around 40% male and 9% female smoke in Pakistan, while lack of enforcement measures, blatant violation of existing tobacco control law 2002 and unregulated tobacco advertisements and promotion beat back the efforts for tobacco control in Faisalabad.
The Network reminds Government authorities to immediately rotate pictorial health warnings, the deadline is missed in December 2011.
Asma Qamar, Communication Officer stated that the time could not be better to talk about tobacco control in Faisalabad to discuss the most alarming global challenge to public health where ban on smoking in public places vanishes with the plumes of smoke. District Government Faisalabad needs to take stringent measures to effectively enforce tobacco control law in public places, stated TheNetwork for Consumer Protection, she added.
Asma Qamar pointed out that May 31st will be observed as World No Tobacco Day 2012. World Health Organisation selects theme of the day “Stop tobacco industry’s interference”. Every year May 31st reminds nations to take stringent measures for tobacco control in their countries. TheNetwork urges the authorities to step towards effective enforcement of tobacco control policies, she added.
She said that The Network is also setting out a campaign to monitor Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship (TAPS) and enforcement of existing tobacco control laws in Faisalabad. TheNetwork for Consumer Protection during an interactive session with media in Faisalabad city urged for effective enforcement of tobacco control laws and to make national legislation in line with the guidelines of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), global public health treaty by World Health Organisation (WHO), she mentioned.
Every day in Pakistan, Dr. Hussan Mehmood said that about 1200 young children start smoking and most of them are hooked as a smoker for lifetime. Situation becomes alarming as shisha and other smokeless tobacco products e.g. gutka and snuff are rising trends among youth. As mass communications have bridged societies around the world, and have also magnified the impact of media on global public health, the media becomes the most influential and powerful part of tobacco control campaign. The session aspired to build a strong partnership with mass medium of the city for implementation of existing tobacco control laws of Pakistan.
Youth is 63% of population of Pakistan. Underage tobacco sale is growing rapidly due to poor implementation of tobacco control policies which are increasing the risks of youth to get hooked regular tobacco use. Similarly, horrific pictures on cigarette packs which are proven to reduce tobacco users especially among youth are yet pending to be revised, he added.
Dr Hussan Mehmood demanded that the Government needs to delay no more time and revise the pictorial health warning on cigarette packs. Pakistan has introduced tobacco control legislation in 2002 which is followed by many SROs but unfortunately the national tobacco control laws were never presented to a legislative platform for review.
 Pakistan lags behind to comply with domestic tobacco control law with international commitment FCTC.  February 27, 2010 was the deadline for Pakistan to go for an FCTC compliant law since it has ratified the international treaty, FCTC in 2004.
It is high time for Pakistan to conceive the magnitude of problem and move ahead towards stricter and effective implementation of tobacco control policies, they concluded.