Pakistan: Tobacco lobby may delay pictorial warnings on cigarette packs

Sept 23, 2009

Pakistan’s tobacco lobby may force the government to delay its decision over cigarette packs carrying pictorial health warnings, sources in the Health Ministry said on Sunday.


On World No Tobacco Day on May 31, the government had announced the introduction of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs and had given the industry a six-month deadline to print them from January 1, 2010. However, soon after the announcement, the tobacco industry held a number of meetings with senior Health Ministry officials to attempt to reverse or delay the implementation of pictorial warnings. The ministry had started work on legislation for introduction of warnings on cigarette packs in consultation with the Ministry of Law, but the tobacco lobby is busy trying to delay the process.


Examples: The industry contended that it could not print the warnings within six months and quoted examples of Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Romania and India, which took more than two years to publish the pictorial warnings on cigarette packs. The picture-based health warnings are particularly significant for countries like Pakistan with poor literacy rate and inadequacy of resources for public health education, and where majority of the people cannot read warnings and remain oblivious to the harmful effects of tobacco use. By introducing pictorial warnings, Pakistan would join 30 countries having similar warnings. Pakistan is signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which binds more than 160 countries to use large, clear, visible and legible warnings on packs and outer packaging.


Full Article: Pakistan’s Daily Times (September 21, 2009)