ISLAMABAD: Speakers at an event were of the view that enhanced graphic health warning (GHW) on tobacco packs can only keep the youth from hazards of tobacco and a number of diseases including cancer.

In the event, organised at a local hotel, results of a survey on assessing the current status of GHW on tobacco packs were shared.

The survey was collaboratively carried out by Human Development Foundation (HDF) and Sparc in five main cities — Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Karachi and Peshawar.

In the survey, it was found that the tobacco companies have not been following the legal standards required under Pakistan’s tobacco control laws.

Mr Azhar Saleem, CEO HDF, shared the background of graphic health warning on cigarette packs.

He said over the decades, numerous research studies have been conducted which endorsed the importance and role of graphic health warnings in reducing rate of smoking among users.

“Graphic health warnings are a cost effective and wide reaching method of reducing tobacco consumption and creating mass awareness about the health hazards of tobacco use,” he said.

Representative of Tobacco Control Cell of the Ministry of National Health Services Mr Ziauddin Islam shared the legal status of laws pertaining to graphic health warning on cigarette packs.

He said the tobacco companies had been instructed to implement the new standard of 60pc size of GHW on cigarette packs from June 1this year.

He said the grace period expired on Aug 31 but tobacco companies had not adopted the new standards.

Mr Malik Imran, from Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, stated that along with the violation of GHW standards, tobacco companies have been indirectly promoting and advertising their products at shops.

He said there was no proper policing for ensuring the effective implementation of tobacco control laws which clearly prohibits tobacco companies from advertising, promoting and sponsoring activities.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2019