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Strained Pressure of Anti-Smoking Law

This was stressed at an orientation aimed at guarantee effective implementation of anti-smoking laws, organized by The Network for Consumer Protection on Monday. On the occasion, Dr Arif Azad, executive coordinator of The Networks, Murtaza Solangi, director general of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), Dr Anwar Raffay, advocacy and research coordinator The Network, Afzal Butt president National Press Club, and media persons from print and electronic media were present.

Participants stressed that drastic measures needed be taken for the implementation of anti-tobacco laws to make Islamabad a smoking-free city. They asked the Ministry of Health to make a comprehensive plan to check violations of anti-tobacco rules.

Participants said that the majority of government offices were violating anti-smoking laws as one could find even high government officials <a href="">smoking</a> in their offices. They called for urgently monitoring and punishing people violating this law.

“Though printing pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs is a great achievement by anti-tobacco advocates, implementation of anti-smoking laws is still an uphill task,” said Dr Azad.

He said that there were about 22-25 million smokers in the country and every year 247 people die of tobacco-related diseases daily. “The sale of cigarettes to children under 18 and smoking in public places continues unchecked due to our feeble law implementation machinery,” he maintained.

Dr Azad further said that even retailers sold cigarette packs with stickers of their shops pasted on pictorial health warnings, but there was nobody to take action against them.

He said it was unfortunate that this practice was continuing in Islamabad, where the law implementation machinery was relatively stronger.

Dr Raffay said that at least 25 per cent of deaths in the country occurred due to tobacco-related disease such as heart attacks, cancer and chronic respiratory conditions,” he added.

Participants also accused the government of being “negligent” towards the increasing trend of Sheesha among youngsters. They termed it a serious public health issue.

They said that students were increasing <a href="">tobacco</a> consumption of the product because they were unaware of its harmful effects.

They criticized the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for allowing the sale of Sheesha at various food markets and commercial hubs.

“Sheesha is more hazardous to health then <a href="">cheap cigarette</a> as its 30 puffs are equal to four cigarettes and the smoke produced from a single pipe contains nicotine approximately to 20 cigarettes,” said Dr Raffay.

According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, however, an individual must smoke Sheesha for 45 minutes to consume 1.7 times the nicotine of a smoker.

Raffay further claimed that many Sheesha cafés use unhygienic conditions where people from ‘all backgrounds’ use the same pipe.

“This could become a cause of other diseases such as tuberculoses (TB) or mouth infections,” he maintained.

On the other hand, Zaffar Rahim, owner of a local Café that also provides Sheesha, said, “We provide disposable mouth pieces to all our costumers and I’ve seen all other Café’s in Islamabad do the same.”

Dr Azad said that it was difficult to discourage Sheesha trend in the country as it had become part of people’s lifestyle and was considered a fashion statement.

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