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Magazine gets notice for promoting smoking

ISLAMABAD, Oct 18: The Pakistan Press Council has issued show cause notice to Newsweek Pakistan for publishing an advertisement of an international cigarette brand and also for publishing an interview of veteran politician Syeda Abida Hussain that allegedly promoted smoking.

A spokesman for Newsweek, however, termed the move irrational, illogical and based on lack of information.

The action by the Press Council was initiated on a complaint filed by an NGO, ‘The Network for Consumer Protection’. It said that the magazine had published an advertisement of an international tobacco brand in its issue of Feb 24, 2012. The NGO said the advertisement was followed by comments from Syeda Abida Hussain extolling the cigarette.

A spokesman for The Network said it first sent a letter to Newsweek Pakistan seeking an apology, but the magazine ignored it. The NGO then approached the Press Council.

“Both the activities were in violation of the country’s anti-smoking laws,” said Nadeem Iqbal, Executive Coordinator of The Network for Consumer Protection.

Newsweek Pakistan brushed off the allegations, arguing that not all laws applicable to local publications were applicable to foreign-based publications.

Fasih Ahmed, Editor-in-Chief of the magazine, said: “If and when we receive any such notice from the so-called Press Council of Pakistan, we may respond to it — with the full disdain that it deserves.”

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