Children are the soft targets of tobacco industry reveals Big Tobacco: Tiny Targets Report

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Picture : ecmweb

ISLAMABAD, December 20, 2018: Multinational tobacco companies advertise tobacco products around schools whereas vendors sell cigarettes and bidis  making these products cheap and accessible to children and youth around schools.  Investigators have observed single stick sales in 99.5% of the 268 tobacco points of sale as observed during a research conducted in early quarter of 2019.

Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) shared these findings during report launch—Big Tobacco: Tiny Targets at a local hotel (Serena). The report is jointly produced by SPARC, Pakistan National Heart Association(PANAH), Human Development Foundation (HDF) and FCC whereas technical inputs have been provided by Mr. Malik Imran Ahmad Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids,Pakistan office.

Sajjad Cheema, Executive Director SPARC quoted the“Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance, 2002”which includes measures to stop people from smoking on public, ban on access to tobacco products near educational institutes and restriction on sale of cigarettes to those who are under 18. But, he added, it has been reported that no complaint has been registered against the violators under this law. In 2010, Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) was seen as a major stride forward in dissuading youth from tobacco use as it death with the manufacturers and retailers.

Speaking on the occasion, Colonel (R) Azhar Saleem – CEO HDF shared cultural and social habits fascinating minors. Tabcoo companies are targeting the markets of minors and women to expand their future markets by expanding business

Dr.Nausheen Shared that federal government is concerned the demand of increasing taxes on tobacco products and their advertisement. The government is working on increasing the pictorial warning space on the tobacco packets.

Major General (R) Masudur Rehman Kayani, President of PANAH,spoke on the smoking habits of youngsters; growing habits of smoking in Youngersis the initial step to get attracted for drugs. He highlighted the crucial roleof anti-smoking campaign reducing the health risks in schools and colleges. We have been working with government and civil society to increase the taxes on tobacco products to condemn the smoking habits in youngsters. There are laws to control tobacco sales for minors to promote the healthy lifestyles. Reduces smoking result in better health and decrease the cost government on health e.g. He further talked about that companies promoting e-cigarettes are less harmful as compared to traditional smoking is equally harmful and destructive for human body and society.  The role of advocacy is necessary to mobile masses against the tobacco harm.

The Chief guest- Lt Gen. Mustafa Kamal Akbar (R)  HI (M) Ex Surgeon General/DGMS reiterated the need of highlighted the impact of smoking on human body and further suggested that lectures should be delivered in schools and colleges to sensitize and reduce smoking habits. He extended that media should play its role in advocating of anti-smoking.

Ms Sabeen Gul Khan, Member Punjab Assembly from Multan,asserted the need of addressing the rising concern of children begin soft targets of the tobacco industry. She supported the idea of adding more model projects on ‘tobacco free cities’ keeping Islamabad model in view. She emphasized that tobacco companies should opt responsible business practices. She also share that government soon will be sharing a circular that teacher will not smoke within the school premises.

It is eminent that sale to the under age and of loose cigarettes has already been outlawed and the ban is being strictly observed in many areas of the county. The provincial Governments should also take steps in compliance with the aforementioned tobacco control laws.