Islamabad - Around 160,000 persons every year die in the country due to tobacco-related diseases, while non-implementation on tobacco control laws is becoming a hurdle in curbing the epidemic, officials said on Wednesday.

Official sources said that the ministry of National Health Services for the enforcement of tobacco control law has decided to train the focal persons in all ministries for their capacity building.

Ministry of NHS had also vowed implementing “Tobacco-Smoke Free Islamabad” and decided to arrange one day training at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) for all focal persons to discourage smoking in all ministries.

The letter issued by ministry of NHS to all ministries said that the global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 7 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second hand smoke.

More than 80percent of these preventable deaths are among people living in low- and middle-income countries, including Pakistan. 

“In Pakistan, tobacco kills 160,000 persons every year,” it said.

The letter also said that in order to protect lives and save our next generations from cancer and other hazards of tobacco use, the government has developed a model “Tobacco-Smoke Free Islamabad” through awareness campaign signage and enforcement of tobacco control laws.

It also stated that District Implementation and Monitoring Committee on tobacco control works under the chair of Deputy Commissioner Islamabad, for implementing tobacco control laws and related efforts to make the capital tobacco smoke free.

Pakistan is one of the signatories of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and fast tracks tobacco control efforts at part of UN Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, WHO has categorized it as “Tobacco – a threat to development,” the letter added.

It said to benefit from the leading role in dissemination of awareness on hazards of tobacco use and implementation of tobacco control laws in respective ministry/division, Ministry of NHS, Regulations and Coordination invites the designed focal persons/officers to attend one day training of trainers on tobacco control.

Statement said that ministry issued letters to all focal persons, elaborating the provisions of the law, powers delegated and procedure of taking cognizance of offense. Building capacity of focal persons for enforcement would be helpful in enforcing tobacco control laws and curbing tobacco epidemic leading to saving lives of people of Pakistan.