Cigarette health warnings: Tobacco industry gets month’s reprieve

Consumer group says delays play in favour of tobacco industry.

Our Correspondent January 29, 2016
Consumer group says delays play in favour of tobacco industry.

ISLAMABAD: The health ministry has given another month’s extension to the tobacco industry for increasing the size of pictorial health warnings to 85 per cent on cigarette packs.

This is the eighth extension granted to the industry by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination in the last one year (NHSRC).

The Network for Consumer Protection (NCP) strongly condemned the decision of the ministry for giving another extension.

The NHSRC issued a notification on January 29, 2015 to raise the pictorial health warning on cigarette packs from 40 per cent to 85 per cent.

At the time of issuing the first notification last year, NHSRC minister Saira Afzal Tarar had said that the government would leave no stone unturned in protecting the health of Pakistanis. She also said that it would be mandatory to have pictorial health warning published on all cigarette packs. She was later awarded by the World Health Organisation for the initiative.

“The health ministry is now eating its own words, an impotent health ministry needs to be
given a supplementary dose to become effective in carrying out its work,” NCP Executive Coordinator Nadeem Iqbal.

He said that back to back extensions on the notification of pictorial health warning made it clear that the health ministry is being more loyal to tobacco front groups and the tobacco industry rather than its own people, especially the youth, who were now initiating smoking more than ever before as shown by the Global Youth Tobacco Survey, 2013.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th,  2016.


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