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Islamabad leads districts in implementing tobacco control law

Islamabad leads districts in implementing tobacco control law

ISLAMABAD: Out of the 10 model districts selected to assess the implementation of the Protection of Non-Smokers Health Ordinance 2002, the Islamabad capital territory (ICT) leads the way, according to statistics collected by the federal ministry of national health services and regulations.

Over the last four years, 593 cases were registered against smokers for violating various sections of the ordinance which mainly emphasises making public places smoke-free.

The provincial governments and the ICT administration are empowered to implement the ordinance in their jurisdictions. The Islamabad-based tobacco control cell is coordinating with the provincial governments to ensure the implementation of the ordinance.

In order to ensure the implementation of the tobacco control law, the tobacco control cell coordinates with the provincial authorities and the ICT administration to issue directions to their subordinate offices.

In response, provincial police chiefs and the ICT administration issue directions to their subordinate offices for strict enforcement of the ordinance. Resultantly, 967 cases were registered against the violators.

According to the ministry, despite all these efforts a number of reasons were found to be responsible for the sluggish implementation of the ordinance.

These included low priority of provincial and the district governments and authorised persons/law enforcement agencies due to overall law and order situation in the country, lack of awareness among the authorised persons/law enforcement agencies about the ordinance, lack of financial incentive to the authorised persons/law enforcement agencies on the enforcement of the ordinance and the shortage of funds for the capacity building of the law enforcement agencies to implement the ordinance.

Other districts where the implementation of the ordinance was scrutinised included Gujranwala, where 110 cases were registered against the violators, Lahore (75), Sargodha (6), Multan (54), Rawalpindi (55), Faisalabad (27), Hyderabad (15), Peshawar (14), Abbottabad (10) and Quetta eight cases.

It may be recalled that in the third week of March, a pro-consumer body drew the attention of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak towards a TV footage in which he was shown smoking at a public place in violation of the Prevention of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smoking Law 2002.

The footage showed the chief minister not only smoking at the public place but also in the presence of his party chairman Imran Khan and the inspector general of police of his province. The Network for Consumer Protection in a letter told the chief minister that under the law this entailed a fine of Rs1,000 that could be raised to Rs100,000 in case of the second violation.

“Smoking publicly is a violation of Section 5 of the tobacco control law. The law prohibits any form of smoking in public places or government offices,” the Network’s executive coordinator Nadeem Iqbal said in the letter.

“We regret this act by the province’s chief executive who represents highest public office in the province,” he added.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2015

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