Government quietly extends deadline

Zahid Gishkori April 26, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The government has extended the date for Pictorial Health Warnings (PHW) to May 30 this year without an explanation.

PHW requires all tobacco companies operating in Pakistan to cover 30 per cent of cigarette boxes with pictorial warnings against smoking and 10 percent with textual ones .

The previous deadline was set for February 1, which passed without much notice. No local cigarette manufacturer changed the design of their cigarette boxes . Khurram Hashmi, who coordinates the Coalition for Tobacco Control, claimed that both the Cigarette Manufacturer Association of Pakistan (CMAP) and the government had reached an under the table understanding.

“We were shocked to learn that the two stakeholders secretly signed a deal for [a delay in the] introduction of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs,” he said. While dodging a question on the reason for the delay, General Secretary CMAP Talal Hakeem told The Express Tribune that the delay was not because of cigarette manufacturers.

“We are ready to fulfill the requirement as and when required,” Hakeem said. Health Secretary Khushnood Akhtar Lashari was also unable to allay concerns about the passing of the original deadline. “

We are going to hold a meeting with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and representatives of the World Health Organization to implement the laws in accordance with the powers conferred by section 8 of the Cigarettes Ordinance 1979, before May 30,” he said.


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