Islamabad- The Ministry of National Health Services and Regulations on Friday issued the order of increasing the size of pictorial warning on cigarette packs up-to fifty per cent, said an official on Friday.

Currently, 40 per cent of the cigarette pack is covered with the pictorial warning of mouth and throat cancer.

The official said that 10 per cent increase on the volume of the pictorial warning has been approved and will be implemented from June 2018.

The instruction to increase the pictorial warning size was given by the federal cabinet this month and has been done under the cigarette ordinance of 1979.

The official said that the increase in the size of pictorial warning will be done in two phases as first in 2018 and second in 2019. In the first phase, the warning size will be increased to 50percent and in the second it will increase to 60per cent.

Government had initiated the increase of pictorial warning size since 2010.

The notification with The Nation said: “In exercise of the powers conferred by section 8 of the cigarettes printing of warning ) Ordinance, 1979 (Lxx111 of 1979) the federal government is pleased to direct that following further amendments shall be made in Cigarettes printing of Warning) Rules, 2009. In the said rules for rule 6 the following shall be substituted.

The size of health warning shall cover at least fifty percent of the front and fifty per cent of the back of cigarette packets and printed cigarette outers from the June 1st, 2018.

The health warning shall cover at least sixty percent of the front side and sixty percent of the back side of cigarette packets and printed cigarette outers from the day of June 2009”.

Director General NHS Dr Asad Hafeez said that tobacco companies have been given time to sell the already manufactured stock before the new rule is implemented. He also added that the companies will be fined if they violate the orders.  

He said that Pakistan is signatory of international agreement Framework Convention on Tobacco Control under which the pictorial warning on cigarette packs can be increased up-to 80 percent.

The ministry had already intimated the Federal Board of Revenue regarding increase of tax on the cigarettes. However, the FBR had introduced a third slab which benefited the multinational companies selling cigarettes.

Peshawar High Court had given an interim relief suspending the third slabs of cigarette introduced in May this year.

Minister NHS Saira Afzal Tarar wrote separate letters to ministry of finance and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, suggesting implementing tax and determining the pricing policies on tobacco products.