Parliamentary Secretary of National Health Services Dr. Nausheen Hamid made this announcement while addressing participants of a national workshop on ‘Tobacco Industry Interference’ here Tuesday. Ironically, at a time when Pakistan should be following plain packaging on cigarette packs, the decision to enhance the size of the PHW to 60% of the cigarette pack came as no big surprise.
Dr. Nausheen stated that the Ministry of Health is taking demand and supply reduction measures to curtail tobacco use. “As demand reduction measures, Pakistan enhanced the size of PHW on cigarette packs. We are in process of notifying Pictorial Health Warning of 60% size, which will be implemented from June 1 and are coordinating with the Ministry of Finance to increase taxes on tobacco products especially cigarettes,” she stated.
About 24 million adults currently use tobacco in any form in Pakistan, leading to around 160,100 deaths every year. The tobacco industry is recruiting youth as “replacement smokers.” Dr. Nausheen said, that the Ministry of Health has sensitized the health departments on Article 5.3 of the FCTC. “Consultative workshops have been conducted at the provincial level in collaboration with WHO. Moreover, the tobacco industry has been ousted form all Committees formed for tobacco control,” she added.