Rules for airing tobacco ads
ISLAMABAD – The government should not relax rules for airing of tobacco advertisements on television channels at peak hours as the move would hurt fight against smoking.
Sources said on June 4 that the government has committed itself to regulating tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion, enforce new labelling rules for tobacco products and strengthen legislation to discourage smoking at public places.
The Health Ministry has also devised various regulations and laws governing tobacco marketing and promotional ads on TV channels, which were phased out a few months ago.
Presently, tobacco ads are aired on television from 12 midnight to 6:00 am. However, any move to allow tobacco ads on television after 2130 hours would increase tobacco products’ exposure to the vulnerable younger generation.
Health and anti-tobacco activists have been advocating further restrictions on the tobacco marketing to ensure reduction in new generation of smokers.
Recently, Pakistan has also signed FTCT convention making it compulsory for the government to expedite implementation of more stringent steps to curb tobacco marketing.
The sources said that it has been well-documented world-wide that tobacco advertising on the television leads to higher levels of juvenile smoking.
Doctors of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad said that it plays an important role in encouraging young people to begin a lifelong addiction to smoking before they were old enough to fully understand its long-term health risks.
The use of tobacco is alarmingly on the rise in Pakistan and there is an urgent need on the part of the government to launch a concerted anti-smoking campaign informing the public about hazardous smoking-related diseases that account for thousands of deaths every year in the country.
The government’s health directive to cigarettes manufacturing companies to print bold health warnings on 30 percent area of cigarette pack had already been complied with.
Smoking costs Pakistan millions of dollars each year in healthcare costs. Re-allowing tobacco advertisement on television would mean gaining a few hundred million rupees at the cost of huge loss to the public health by promoting tobacco use in the country.
The government should use television to discourage smoking among the public, a representative of local non-governmental organization said.
Source: Business Recorder