ISLAMABAD: Parliamentary Secretary of Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), Dr Shazia Sobia Aslam Soomro has assured that she would raise voice in parliament for legislation against novel tobacco products.

She was speaking to participants at an event organised by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) titled ‘Independence from tobacco’ to celebrate International Youth Day 2022.

The speakers shed light on the importance of banning novel tobacco products and highlighted that these products are biggest threats to the younger generation.

“A total of 61 million of youngsters are an asset for our country and the government realises that. We will not let any industry deliberately target our youth,” she said.

NHS Secretary Mirza Nasiruddin Mashhood Ahmad expressed concerns that 1,200 children begin smoking daily and 170,000 people die due to tobacco induced diseases every year.

He said the tobacco control cell at the ministry was active and it encouraged parliamentarians, civil society, academia and media to collaborate in countering sale and promotion of tobacco products among youth.

Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids Country Head Malik Imran Ahmed, said tobacco industry was engaging youth icons for paid social media content.

“If these attempts of tobacco industry are not kept in check through proper mechanisms, they will grow more powerful and keep being the cause of deaths and diseases in the country,” he said.

Country Lead Vital Strategies and former technical head Tobacco Control Cell of NHS Ministry Dr Ziauddin Islam said in Pakistan there was no federal or provincial legislation regarding novel products i.e. nicotine pouches, e-cigarettes and vapes. Anees Jillani, Member, Board of Director Sparc, said since 1992, Sparc has been working for the dismal plight of the children across the country through research, awareness raising and improved policy making and implementation.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2022

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