Pictorial warnings on cigarette packs subject to ministerial clearance
ZUBAIR QURESHI ISLAMABAD— Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar, Wednesday while speaking at a seminar in connection with World No Tobacco Day said the pictorial health warnings ( PHW) on cigarette packets could not be enhanced due to an inter- ministerial committee and a number of petitions pending before the courts to review the impact of such warnings.
“Tobacco Control Cell notified new pictorial health warning in 2015 and enhanced the size to 85pc of cigarette pack on both sides. Later an InterMinisterial Committee ( IMC) was formed to review the impact of pictorial health warning on revenue & smuggling and to consult with stakeholders regarding implementation issues,” she said while addressing the participants of the seminar jointly organized by WHO and the Ministry of Health.
The Committee recommended to adopt phased approach i. e. PHW to be increased by 10pc from 1st June, 2016 and further be increased by 10pc on 1st June, 2017 or 5pc on 1st June, 2017 and another 5% on 1st June, 2018. In the third year of the decision, a survey to assess the impact of pictorial health warning on revenue & smuggling will be conducted. After reviewing the result of the survey, further decision will be made.
Meanwhile, two petitions were filed in Islamabad High Court against the decision of the Committee. This Ministry is respondent in the case. The recommendations could not be implemented due to sub- judice matter. She assured that this Ministry will take every step to implement FCTC provisions.
However, she said that Pakistan was committed to implementing tax and price policies on tobacco products as a way to reduce tobacco consumption.