The federal cabinet on Tuesday has put a ban on the sale of loose cigarettes. This decision has been taken to prevent the children from smoking by making the cigarettes costlier.
The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) spokesperson—Sajid Hussain Shah informed that the Ministry has finally got successful after two years of continuous efforts for securing a verdict in the favour of its proposal.
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Health experts along with the civil society have constantly been working since many years for banning the sale of loose cigarettes to stop and discourage children from smoking.
As per a ministry official (who does not have the authority to speak on the record) said that many countries including Nepal, Iran, Turkey and some Indian states—which includes Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have also banned the sale of loose cigarettes.
Saira Afzal Tarar—NHS Minister, on Tuesday defended the proposal presented by the ministry and it was approved. The NHS Minister said that it is a good initiative that Pakistan had also become one of those nations of the region which have banned the selling of loose cigarettes.
He further said that as soon as the cabinet’s verdict is received in writing, a statutory regulatory order (SRO) would be released to stop the sale of loose available cigarettes available for sale throughout the country.
As per the article 16 of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) nations should take proper measures to protect the children from getting into addictions like smoking—as part of the measure the sale of small cigarette packets and loose cigarettes should be banned.
Back in 2010 Pakistan banned the sale of 10-cigarette packs, however, the sale of loose cigarettes continued. As most children get rupees ten or twenty on a daily, so they would not be able to make the purchase of the whole pack of cigarettes. The NHS Minister added that once the SRO is issued it would become easy and possible to not just impose fines for violations but also to send the rule breakers to jail.
Dr Shah—the ministry spokesperson said that the ban on the sale of loose cigarettes is an effort of the ministry for discouraging smoking.
Smoking is the most significant factor that leads to lung diseases as per health experts. Above 6.9 million people have been affected by severe obstructive pulmonary diseases in Pakistan because of smoking.
As per experts, it is expected that by 2020 smoking would become the third major cause of deaths from chronic diseases throughout the world.