PR No.119 Islamabad: March 14, 2017

Minister, National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar has assured that there will be zero tolerance against any hurdle in way to fulfil the obligations under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which Pakistan ratified in 2004. This commitment was made during a meeting with WHO FCTC Needs Assessment Mission who called on the Minister in Islamabad today.

The Minister told the Mission that Pakistan is taking legislative, administrative and coordination measures to implement FCTC provisions. As demand reduction measures, Pakistan has increased taxes on cigarette packs. Tobacco control issues are being discussed in the Parliament. Mass media campaigns have also been launched to warn masses about hazards of tobacco use. Although this Ministry is facing many challenges yet every step will be taken to save the lives of people of Pakistan by curb the epidemic of tobacco use. The Minister asked the Mission to guide this Ministry in bridging the gaps in implementation of the Convention in order to achieve the SDG 3.a which calls for strengthening the implementation of FCTC.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Health stressed on the need of having local data on tobacco control issues and requested the Secretariat to help the Ministry in this connection.

Dr. Tibor Szilagyi, representing the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC and Head of the Mission thanked the Minister for inviting the Convention Secretariat for conducting this very important exercise and assured that the Convention will provide support in bridging up the gaps in implementation of the FCTC. He also stressed on the need of integration of FCTC implementation with other government sectors.

The Government of Pakistan has invited the Convention Secretariat to assist in implementation of a needs assessment concerning Pakistan’s obligations under the treaty. The mission will be followed by the development of specific assistance programmes, including technical and other assistance for the needs and priorities identified, to be supported through the provision of catalytic funding.

Tobacco use is single largest preventable cause of death in the world. In Pakistan, tobacco is a cause of death of around 108,800 persons every year. This is 298 deaths per day. Implementation of FCTC provision is catalyst for curbing tobacco epidemic in Pakistan.