Civil society lauds federal cabinet’s decision to ban sale of loose cigarettes

ISLAMABAD: The Network for Consumer Protection on Tuesday applauded the federal cabinet’s decision to ban the sale of loose cigarettes in a bid to discourage smoking in the country.

Commenting on the decision of the federal cabinet, the representatives of civil society said that the ban would definitely help in discouraging the smoking trend amongst the youth.

The Network for Consumer Protection’s Head, Nadeem Iqbal said “It has been always the duty of the government to protect its youth from the hazards of tobacco and we are thankful to the Prime Minister and the Ministry of National Health Services and Regulations, for taking this concrete step in the right direction.”

He said, “We are hopeful that this ban would be enforced in its true spirit and we believe that it’s just the beginning.”

He said that in addition to the tobacco industry, retailers were the main beneficiary of the loose cigarette sale as it earned them more money than selling a full pack as a single loose cigarette of one popular brand costs rupees eight whereas the whole pack is sold for Rs 135. With the new ban in place, things would apparently look better but there is a dire need to enforce the underage no sale law, he said.

According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey 2013, among current cigarette smokers who bought cigarettes, 44.9 per cent were not prevented from buying them because of their age. This calls for an immediate enforcement of the underage ban on cigarettes.

The civil society representatives said, “If we are able to legislate these areas, only then it will serve as a complete package where you make cigarettes less affordable by banning the sale of loose cigarettes and increasing taxes on the price of cigarette packs, prohibiting underage sale and creating constant awareness about health hazards related to tobacco use by increasing the size of graphic health warning.

They also asked for imposing a complete ban on advertisements, promotions and sponsorships of tobacco products, including the point of sale advertisements which are the root cause of demand generation for tobacco in youth and are mainly targeting children.

It is pertinent to mention here that in order to discourage cigarette smoking, the federal cabinet approved banning of the sale of loose cigarettes by amending the “Prohibition of Sale of Cigarettes to Minor Rules, 2010.

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