RAWALPINDI: A mobile phone application was launched in Rawalpindi on Thursday that can be used to report violations of tobacco control laws.

The application ‘Smoke Free Pakistan’ was launched at an event at the deputy commissioner’s office, at a meeting chaired by Additional Deputy Commissioner Zaheer Anwar Jappa and attended by assistant commissioners, police and senior Pakistan Railways and Regional Transport Authority officials.

Tobacco Smoke Free Cities Project Director Dr Minhajus Siraj told meeting participants that 1,200 children begin smoking every day in the country.

He said the application would prove helpful in the implementation of tobacco control laws in public places and will result in an improved healthcare status with reduced tobacco use.

Pakistan promulgated the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health Ordinance in 2002, restricting tobacco use in public places and public service vehicles as well as the advertisement of tobacco products, prohibiting the sale of cigarettes to minors and the storage, sale and distribution of cigarettes in the immediate vicinity of educational institutions, and making it mandatory to display anti-smoking messages in public areas.

However, the mechanism to report violations of this law is very extensive and people are largely unaware of the process.

Mr Jappa said at the meeting that the application will help the public report a violation of tobacco control laws and photograph the violation.

He said legal action based on the reported violations will be taken by the Tobacco Smoke Free Cities project and the district administration.

“Non-smokers can be protected from second hand tobacco smoke through the enforcement of tobacco control laws,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2020