LAHORE, Aug 16: The Network for Consumer Protection in a report released on Friday said only 7.7 per cent tobacco retailers were selling tobacco with valid license while 52 per cent of them are selling tobacco products to minors, which is a clear violation of tobacco control laws.

It said the analysis of the collected data from the Report “Monitoring of Tobacco Advertising, Promotion & Sponsorship (TAPS) and Point of Sale Advertising” reveals that point of sale (POS) advertisement is observed at 68 per cent of the tobacco retail places. It further said 69 per cent POS are using “Power walls and Fascia” for tobacco advertising, and beneficiary schemes for retailers observed at 9 per cent of monitored POS.

According to a press release, the report was released by TheNetwork for Consumer Protection in a sensitization session with politicians and parliamentarians at a local hotel. Punjab Assembly members Rukhsana Kokab, Kanji Ram, Shakeel Ivan, Shahbaz Akmal, Tariq Gill, Baigum Nasreen Nawaz, Farzana Butt, Dr Farzana Nazir, and Fouzia Ayub Qureshi attended the session along with other local politicians, civil society organisations, government officials and lawyers who pledged strong support for tobacco control.

It said TheNetwork’s monitoring survey based on two years was conducted to assess the trends of tobacco marketing after ban on tobacco advertising in mass media. During the session Pakistan’s first ever online database on tobacco control was also exhibited by TheNetwork.

The survey was conducted in 10 populous districts of Pakistan including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Lahore, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Jhelum, Sialkot and Bahawalpur.

Tobacco prevalence among men is 32 per cent and among women 9 per cent in Pakistan. Every year more than 100,000 people die due to tobacco related diseases.

Analysis of TheNetwork’s monitoring in 10 districts establishes that tobacco advertising and promotional activities of tobacco industry increase likelihood of people beginning or continuing to use tobacco. Tobacco industry uses many tactics to attract non-tobacco users. Specifically, it targets youth and women.

The report said tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship (TAPS) misleads the public by depicting tobacco as being no different from any other legal consumer product. TAPS increases the social acceptability of tobacco use and makes it more difficult to educate people about tobacco hazards. Moreover, TAPS strengthens the tobacco industry’s influence over entertainment businesses through the tens of billions of dollars spent annually on marketing activities.

According to the report tobacco kills almost six million of its users each year. The tobacco industry needs to attract new customers to replace those who die or manage to quit. Tobacco industry’s strategy to sell its products is tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS).

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