PESHAWAR, Feb 20: Participants at a consultative seminar on Wednesday highlighted negative impacts of use of smokeless tobacco products on human health and suggested legislation for levy of special taxes on such products in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The seminar titled, “Advocacy for Amendments to Anti-Tobacco Laws and Policy Chance for Covering Smokeless Tobacco Products” was held under the auspicious of Sustainable Development Vision, an NGO, in collaboration with Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids here.

Representatives of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, legal experts and members of civil society organisations attended the seminar.

The speakers said that the number of users of smokeless tobacco was increasing fast due to absence of any specific laws to control it, while weak enforcement of existing laws failed to ensure tobacco-free society. They suggested that the government should impose specific taxes through proper legislation to control the increasing consumption of such products.

They proposed registration of smokeless items, particularly snuff (naswar), and said that check on their ingredients, manufacturing, etc should be made mandatory. A special awareness campaign should be launched with the support of relevant stakeholders, including tobacco companies, to sensitise masses to the negative impacts of tobacco use on human health.

The participants said that the snuff processing units should be shifted from residential areas to save people from health hazards.

Referring to a research study conducted by her organisation in Mardan, Swabi, Haripur and Abbottabad districts, SDV programme official Asifa Hameed said that the number of users of smokeless tobacco products had been increasing due to absence of specific laws. She said that smokeless tobacco items included snuff, gutka, chimo, plug, khaini, tambak, pan, qiwam, mawa, zarda, etc.

She said that the ratio of smokeless tobacco users was about 61 per cent in Mardan and Haripur districts.

About objectives of the project, SDV executive director Ziafat Zaman said that a draft proposal was in final stages for framing a policy concerning smokeless tobacco products so as to reduce their consumption.

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