RAWALPINDI: Pakistan has the highest number of smokers in the entire South Asian region with approximately 300 dying every day on average due to smoking-induced diseases, as per recent statistics. In a bid to discourage smokers, the Ministry of National Health Services has ordered a 10 per cent enlargement in the size of the pictorial warning on cigarette packs. As the directives to increase the size of the picture remain ambiguous considering the previously given guidelines by the same ministry, it is important to note that a picture on a cigarette pack would not suffice or even partially serve the purpose.
The first warning label on cigarette packs appeared around 1989, whereas a ban on cigarette advertisement on television dates back to 1960. Yet over the period of time a persistent increase has been observed in the number of smokers across the world. As smoking is more of an addiction, a picture is least likely to deter smokers from smoking. Hence, legislation limiting the manufacturing and sale of cigarettes alongside awareness and therapeutic measures to deal with smoking might prove to be relatively far more helpful. The tobacco manufacturing industry thrives upon selling the same pack of cigarettes which has a graphic picture on it. Hence, assuming the business will make any losses owing to the new strategy of increasing the size of the pictorial warning is the most irrational and nonsensical idea.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2017.