SPARC organises roundtable discussion on tobacco control law
- Sale of cigarettes via single sticks have made tobacco products cheap and accessible to children and youth around schools.
- Every day, approximately 1200 children start smoking in Pakistan.
- Tobacco Control Cell in District South has been reactivated and Implementation Monitoring and Committee (DIMC) has been established in District South.
Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) with an aim to make Karachi smoke free, organised a roundtable discussion with parliamentarians on Tobacco Control Law at Marriott Hotel Karachi on Thursday.
Manager SPARC Shumaila Muzammil informed the audience that tobacco brands are being sold near schools and school playgrounds.
Sale of cigarettes via single sticks have made tobacco products cheap and accessible to children and youth around schools. Display of tobacco products at point-of-sale in appealing ways is also increasing the number of new smokers.
Every day, approximately 1200 children start smoking in Pakistan. There are over 23.9 million tobacco users in Pakistan, out of which 125000 are dying every year because of tobacco inducted diseases. (Sustainable Development Policy Institute, 2018-19).
Talking about the campaign ‘Let’s Make Karachi Smoke Free’, Haris Jadoon, Field Manager SPARC shared that SPARC took up this challenge and as a result several government departments have appointed focal persons from to undertake this issue.
Furthermore, Tobacco Control Cell in District South has been reactivated and Implementation Monitoring and Committee (DIMC) has been established in District South.
SPARC has also sensitised academia, media, restaurants, hospitals, bus drivers and conductors, and vendors about the harms of tobacco smoking at public places and facilitating children in smoking.
Prof. Dr. Farah Iqbal from Psychology Department at the University of Karachi, said that tobacco smoking not only has physical impacts but psychological impacts on human health too. Tobacco smoking is causing dementia and other serious issues. Passive smoking is deemed equally dangerous for youth and minors. Worldwide, it is estimated 40 percent children up to the age of 14 are exposed to passive smoking, which cause 600,000 deaths across the globe.
The discussion covered the tobacco control law Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Ordinance no. LXXIV of 2002 and its related SROs in detail. The general misconceptions such as definition of Public Places, Smoking Areas in premises of Public Places, Sale of Loose Cigarettes, Marketing and Display of Tobacco Products were discussed.
The harms of second-hand and third-hand smoking, and tobacco in other forms such as Sheesha, were also shared in detail. The participants were also informed about the responsibilities which befall them to ensure compliance of the law at public places.
Parliamentarians appreciated SPARC’s efforts and vowed to support provincial legislation in this regard. MPAs Sidra Imran, Ghulam Jilani, Ameer-ul-Hasan Khan, Syed Riaz Hussain Shah, and Veerji Kohli were the key speakers. The parliamentarians encouraged SPARC to share draft of legislation encompassing the requirements under international obligations such as SDG 3.9 A and WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) with all parties and after incorporating feedback to share this legislation with ministry of law.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.