Health warnings on tobacco products should be ensured by better implementation on laws: Speakers

ISLAMABAD: The better implementation of laws pertaining to health warnings on tobacco products is the critical need of the hour besides presenting these messages in the local languages. The experts from the health and social sector said this while sharing their views during the webinar “Graphic Health Warning – Combustible, Smokeless and New Novel Products,” organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).  

Co-founder and Secretary General of Tobacco Free Jordan, Ms Larissa AL-Uar, informed the participants that just during last one year, 9027 deaths were occurred in Jordon due to smoking. She added further that Jordan has many laws and regulation regarding the pictorial health warnings which have been found effective. However, we need to enhance the effectiveness of these laws and the campaign for pictorial health warnings, especially on the products being used in the rural areas of the country.   

National Focal Point for Illicit Trade, Tobacco Control Cell, Minister of Health, Dr Samra Mazhar, said that the delay in the implementation of the pictorial health warnings on the tobacco products has occurred as the pandemic has halted the entire process. Warning should appear on all products is a good suggestion and it should be in all the local languages to make it understandable to everyone.   

Mr Azhar Saleem, CEO, Human Development Foundation (HDF), lamented that Pakistan have a long list of laws regarding the tobacco products, but the implementation is lacking. Therefore, the graphic warning is innovative campaign and to take it to the 85% on all the products should be the target.  

Presenting regional perspective, Dr Sahana Hedge Shetiya, Head Department of Public Health at Dr D Y Patil Dental College and Hospital, Pune, India, was of view that India has banned all types of e-cigarettes since 2019.  She asserted that there should be strict enforcement of the pictorial warning on all smokeless tobacco products or all the navel products.  

Mr Waseem Janjua, Senior Researcher, SDPI, earlier highlighted that in Pakistan, we have 50% textual health warning and with picture on the packing of the on the tobacco products. He added that the warning needs to be rotated every year to the public in the local languages. Moreover, the navel tobacco products and e-cigarette which have been on increase in the country and the little tax on these products indicate a tacit approval from the govt, he added.  Syed Ali Wasif Naqvi, Head of Centre for Health Policy & Innovation, SDPI, also highlighted different aspects of the issue and said that emphasized that the health warning pictures on the tobacco products need appropriate laws and implementation.