In an appreciable move by the City District Government Lahore, at least 30 shops were sealed for selling cigarettes to the underage children. Around 14 shopkeepers were also arrested in the drive and eight shops sealed for violating the law.

Tobacco use has emerged as a serious health challenge in Pakistan - especially amongst the youth. It makes the country stand among the top four countries of the world with a rapid increase in the tobacco market.

According to experts, tobacco kills nearly six million people each year in the world, of which more than 600,000 are non-smokers dying from passive smoking. In Pakistan, an estimated 40 percent males and nine percent females are smokers and the number is increasing day by day. Even more alarming is the estimation by Pakistan Pediatrics Association (PPA) that 1,000 to 1,200 school-going children aged six to 16 take up smoking every day in the country. According to a new report released by the association, the smokers belonging to the low socio-economic group reported spending 25% of their total household income on cigarettes.

The Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar announced in 2015 a decision to increase the size of pictorial warnings on cigarette packets, which will now cover 85 percent of the cigarette pack, on both sides. Although a commendable move, the decision has scarcely been implemented. The tobacco industry remains a strong and influential one and any initiative of reform to cut back is met with intense pressure. Considering that approximately 60,000 people die of tobacco-related diseases in the country, stricter action must be taken to reduce the number of young children turning towards tobacco. Social marketing could influence smokers to voluntarily accept, reject, or abandon their smoking behaviour, and it is high time to mass educate the country’s people about the hazards of this toxic substance.