Pakistan - Government must withdraw Statutory Regulatory Order..

May 25, 2009 - On the occasion of World NO Tobacco Day, May 31, 2009 the Pakistan Ministry of Health may announce the Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) that promote smoking in designated areas withdrawn.

Pakistan shocked the international community in September 2008 when its Ministry of Health decided to legitimise the long-disputed smoking lounges by issuing guidelines for their establishment. The SRO projected the country in a negative limelight, given that Article 8 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and the Guidelines adopted by the WHO FCTC Conference of Parties, makes it legally binding for all signatories to adopt and implement effective legislative measures for protection against exposure to tobacco smoke.

DG Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of Health, Shaheen Masud: Pakistan has an estimated population of Pakistan is 172.8 million , the sixth most populous country in the world. About 22-25 million Pakistanis smoke and most of them are poor, Masud said 54 percent smokers were male and 20 percent female, adding that prevalence of smoking was 33 percent among male and 4.7 percent among female. She said in addition to cigarette, tobacco was used in hookah, snuff, niswar, chewing tobacco and gutka. Sheesha smoking was fast emerging as a big threat, she said. She said Pakistan’s cigarette market was the 18th largest in the world and the country’s annual tobacco yield was 2,402 kg. She said two-thirds of the country’s population lived in rural areas where tobacco consumption was mainly in non-cigarette forms.

Masud said 57 tobacco manufacturers operated in Pakistan currently but the sector was dominated by and Lakson Tobacco Company. She said Lakson Tobacco Company (acquired by PMI) had 46.9 percent share of the tax-paying market and Pakistan Tobacco Company (owned by British American Tobaco - BAT) had 52 percent share of the same.

Masud said a boom in the tobacco business came over the last five years. “This shows an indirect evidence of the rising magnitude of tobacco consumption in Pakistan,” she said. She said tobacco was grown over 32,551 hectares (one hectare = 2.47 acres) of land and total cigarette consumption was around 80 billion units in the country.

Euromonitor - Tobacco in Pakistan.

References: Nothing but withdrawal of order to appease anti-smoking campaigners by Shahina Maqbool, International The News, 5/21/2009; Yearly media watch on tobacco control in Pakistan - 2008, Coalition for Tobacco Control..

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