ISLAMABAD: Stakeholders in the tobacco industry have started opposing the Ministry of National Health Services’ (NHS) move for trying to keep children from smoking by making cigarettes less affordable for them.
In developed countries, the sale of individual cigarettes is not allowed to ensure that children do not buy them as they often cannot afford to buy a whole pack. The ministry has been trying to follow this practice.
However, the All Pakistan Cigarette, Pan and Beverage Retailers’ Association at a press conference here on Monday rejected any legislation banning the sale of open cigarettes and demanded the government include the association in the consultation process.
The association’s president, Haji Mobeen claimed that 700,000 workers were engaged in different outlets selling cigarettes across the country and providing financial support to around three million people.
Legislation is aimed at keeping children from smoking by making cigarettes unaffordable
He said any law depriving these workers of their livelihood would not be acceptable.
“Before making any legislation, all stakeholders concerned are involved in the consultation process. However, we regret that legislators and the decision makers are not taking us on board,” he added.
He said the association had informed the health and commerce ministries and the parliamentary committee on commerce about the reservations but to no avail.
He said the way government was trying to impose a ban on the sale of loose cigarettes would not prove fruitful but would increase smoking in society.
He said hundreds of thousands of people were involved in the business and it would be impossible for the government to get the proposed law implemented across the country.
He requested Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to include the association in the consultation process.
However, the head of the Network for Consumer Protection Nadeem Iqbal, told Dawn that it was the duty of the government to protect the youth from the hazards of tobacco.
“As children start smoking by purchasing one or two cigarettes, there should be a law to stop the sale of loose cigarettes so that they would not be able to purchase cigarettes. As the tobacco industry targets the youth, the legislation is not acceptable to it. The government should introduce the law as soon as possible,” he said.
Courtesy Dawn, January 9th, 2018