LAHORE - Punjab Minister for Primary and Secondary Healthcare Dr. Jamal Nasir has informed that the Punjab government has constituted implementation and monitoring committees at the provincial as well as divisional levels for enforcement of legislation with regard to tobacco control in the province.
The minister was talking to a visiting delegation from Ministry of National Health, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad, here, Tuesday. He said anti-smoking laws needed to be strictly enforced in Pakistan and the Punjab government was taking all necessary steps to ensure the implementation of laws related to smoking.
The minister told that the provincial implementation committee was headed by the Secretary Health Punjab while the divisional committees were to be headed by the respective divisional commissioners. The said committees will work to make Punjab smoke free under the “Tobacco Smoke Free Cities Initiative”. These committees will devise the strategies and action agenda for effective implementation of anti-smoking laws in Punjab. These committees will ensure that the Hotels/Restaurants, Hospitals, Dispensaries, other Healthcare Establishments, Educational Institutions, Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) were completely “smoke free” and there were no designated “Smoking area”.
Dr. Jamal Nasir informed that Murree will be made a tobacco-free city as a pilot project, with the support by the federal government.
He observed that tobacco was the biggest silent killer in Pakistan. Apart from cancer, smoking causes heart disease, TB, stroke and other diseases. Tobacco use in various forms was also responsible for millions of deaths every year. More than 170,000 Pakistanis die every year due to smoking, he added. The minister urged the smokers to refrain from smoking and love their own life and family instead of smoking tobacco. Project Manager, Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of National Health Mohammad Aftab Ahmed briefed the meeting.
Speaking on the occasion, Kathy Wright, Global Enforcement Program Manager of the Union International, an international NGO working to control tobacco consumption, who also accompanied the delegation, said that signboards were an effective tool for raising awareness about smoking laws. There was a need to install signboards about the harmful effects of smoking at all public and private enterprises, she added.