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ISLAMABAD: A campaign by the local administration regarding smoking hazards and the implementation of tobacco control laws has been planned, in collaboration with the Capital Administration and Development Division, to make Islamabad a smoke-free city.

Officials at the interior division said on Monday that a district implementation and monitoring committee on tobacco control, chaired by the Islamabad deputy commissioner, has been formed to plan, implement and monitor the Tobacco Smoke Free City initiative, which meets on a regular basis.

In response to a question, the officials said sheesha bars are banned in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), but implementation of this ban is a continuous process to which the ICT administration is committed.

They said the administration has adopted the Tobacco Vendor Act 1958, under which the chief commissioner has revised the annual vend fee.

Around 13,000 vendors are registered under the act, along with affidavits to abide by the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non Smokers Health Ordinance 2002. They said 75 vendors had left the tobacco business, and the ICT administration has banned tobacco business near educational institutions under the Tobacco Control Ordinance.

At this moment, tobacco products are absent in 80pc of shops near educational institutions. Around Rs2 million in revenue have been generated under the Tobacco Vendor Act.

The officials said the ICT administration and CADD had declared 164 public places to be tobacco smoke free, including hotels and restaurants, schools, colleges and universities, and high-rise buildings. A memorandum of understanding has also been signed with the Higher Education Commission.

They said 10 public parks in the city have also been declared tobacco smoke free, and station house officers and sub-divisional police officers have been directed to launch awareness programmes amongst the youth regarding the harmful effects of tobacco and sheesha consumption and to ensure no one is selling smoking substances to anyone below the age of 18.

The administration has constituted six teams under assistant commissioners in ICT subdivisions to enforce tobacco control laws. Enforcement teams have raided sheesha bars and fined violators of tobacco control laws as part of their efforts to control indoor and underage smoking.

The officials said the teams imposed Rs3.1m in fines on violators between 2015-17, and many sheesha bars had closed down.

They said action had been taken against eight people in 2018.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018