ISLAMABAD: Following directives issued by a Senate panel, the Health Ministry on Thursday wrote to all federal secretaries and provincial chief secretaries, requesting them to issue direct the relevant authorities to ensure the tobacco control laws are complied with in their respective areas.
They have also been requested to publicise the names and phone numbers of focal persons from all federal ministries and provincial departments who can take action on complaints.
In the letters, the secretary of the National Health Services complained about the tobacco control laws being violated and such was discussed in a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Health held on October 31.
Referring to different sections of the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smoker’s Health Ordinance 2002, he urged that all places of public work or use and public service vehicles should be completely tobacco smoke-free and to display no-smoking signs.
Similarly, no cigarettes or other smoking substances should be sold to children under 18-years-of-age. The secretaries have been requested to ensure that a ban on the sale, storage and distribution of tobacco products within and 50 metres of educational institutions is strictly enforced.
Since officers of basic pay scale grade-20 and above in the relevant ministries and departments are authorised to take action against violators, all secretaries have been requested to issue directions to the relevant authorities to ensure that tobacco control laws are complied with and provide a list of the names and phone numbers of focal persons from each ministry and department to take action on complaints.
Earlier, the Supreme Court, in a suo moto case on tobacco use, had directed that the laws are complied with. These directions were issued to all provincial chief secretaries.
The federal cabinet echoed these directions in its meeting held on September 30, 2016. Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of death in the world. In Pakistan, tobacco causes around 108,800 people to die every year.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2017.