A survey has found a massive violation of “Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health Ordinance 2002” in 36 major cities of the country, showing an apathetic response of local administrations.
The survey was conducted by the Coalition For Tobacco Control (CTC) to provide the Ministry of Health with evidence based regarding the current status of the implementation of tobacco control statutes in Pakistan, Khurram Hashmi, National Coordinator CTC said. He added the survey was also carried out to effectively quarterly monitor the implementation of tobacco control statutes in Pakistan in at least 20 representative districts. He said the survey was conducted to check implementation of various sections of the ordinance included Section 5: Prohibition of smoking and other tobacco use, Section 6: Prohibition of smoking in public service vehicles,Section 7: Prohibition on advertisement of cigarette etc., Section 8: Prohibition of sale of cigarettes etc. to minors and Section 9: Prohibition of storage, sale and distribution of cigarettes, etc. in the immediate vicinity of educational institutions He said this survey will be conducted on an ongoing basis every three months to observe the changes in the situation of the implementation of tobacco control statutes in Pakistan.
Hashmi said CTC-PAK has been advocating for stronger measures for tobacco control by the translation and adaptation of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) provisions into national tobacco control laws. He said the WHO’s FCTC was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic and is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health. He added the Convention represents a milestone for the promotion of public health and provides new legal dimensions for international health cooperation.
In the survey it was observed that in 72.1% of the vehicles, people including the driver and conductor were found using cigarettes while driver and conductor of approximately 61% of the vehicles did not know that smoking in public service vehicles was banned. Pakistan claimed that only 30.7% of the restaurants had “No Smoking Zone” sign displayed while in 50% of the restaurants, people were seen smoking. The staff of less than one eighth of the total restaurants was aware of the ban on smoking in restaurants.
Similarly, 35.7% offices surveyed had No Smoking Zone board visible while in 30.5% of the offices, people were seen smoking in the No Smoking Zone.
The staff of 74.4% of the offices was aware of the ban on smoking in public places.It claimed 79.8% banks had No Smoking Zone board visible while in 14.9% of the banks, people were seen smoking in the No Smoking Zone. The staff of 88.8% of the banks was aware of the ban on smoking in public places. Out of 36 commercial areas observed, eight had billboard displaying a tobacco advertisement. Three were near shopping areas and two were on main roads. Four of these billboards were 10 ft or more in width, while one was less than 10 ft in width.
At only 19 out of 144 outlets, cigarette packs without warning were being sold. Sales to minors were taking place at 77% of the cigarette sales outlets while merchandize for children was being sold at 88% cigarette sales shops.
The survey claimed that 66% of the educational institutions had cigarette sales outlet in close vicinity to their building. Nine educational institutions out of 139, had cigarettes available in their canteen for sale. It added there was presence of cigarette advertising near approximately 17% of the educational institutions.
During the survey, a total of 140 restaurants, 86 offices, 75 banks, 74 cigarette sales outlets, 148 public service vehicles, 36 commercial areas and 75 educational institutions were observed.
The data consists of observations made at different public places; including restaurants, offices, banks, public transport vehicles, commercial areas, cigarette selling outlets and educational institutions. The survey report suggested the federal and provincial health ministries to play their role by facilitating and monitoring future interventions besides planning sensitization and awareness programs on tobacco control. The report also suggested further evaluations with anecdotal data so that new strategies for a smoke-free environment may be based on successful examples seen during the surveys.
When contacted, an official of Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of Health said that sincere steps are being taken for effective implementation of the anti-smoking laws in the country. He said several innovative steps have already been taken in this regard to stop violation of anti-tobacco laws.
Reference: 36 cities don’t implement anti-tobacco laws by Yawar Abbas, Associated Press of Pakistan, 1/23/2011.
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