Islamabad - On the eve of World No Tobacco Day, an NGO The Network for Consumer Protection has offered ministry of national health services to withdraw a court case if the ministry enforces its earlier decision of raising the size of pictorial health warning to 85% on cigarette pack and make a tangible progress to implement plain packaging.

For World No Tobacco Day – observed each year on May 31 - the World Health Organisation is calling on countries around the world to implement plain packaging of tobacco products and help end the deadly tobacco epidemic.

The Network has taken the ministry of national health services, regulations & coordination (NHSRC) to the Islamabad High Court for dwindling on a January 2015 notification to raise the size of pictorial health warning to 85% of the cigarette pack. TheNetwork made this announcement during a picket in front of National Press Club that was participated by civil society activists, health rights promoters and political workers.

Chief Executive of TheNetwork for Consumer Protection, Nadeem says that plain package of cigarette just having a pictures of tobacco victims like cancer patients, children affected by second hand smoke, babies died in mothers bellies, is the most effective mean of tobacco control advertisement in Pakistan where government spends nothing on preventive health.

Plain packaging reduces the appeal of tobacco consumption and increases the noticeability of health warnings on tobacco packs. It eliminates the use of colourful logos and branding on tobacco packaging, which serves as a key strategy used by the tobacco industry to make products more appealing to current and potential customers, including youth. More and more countries around the world are implementing plain packaging including the United Kingdom (UK) and France which both implemented plain packaging earlier this month.

Nadeem stressed that Pakistan should also follow suit as different NHSRC surveys like Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) say that 3 out of every 10 current smokers thought of quitting smoking because of warning labels. The most promising result is that of recently released STEPS which recorded that in Punjab and Sindh around 8 out of every 10 noticed health warnings on cigarette packs while around 7 thought of quitting.

The NHSRC must resist the pressure from tobacco industry and cash upon these positive statistics and immediately implement Article 13 that comprehensively bans tobacco advertisement, promotion and sponsorship and Article 11 of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which calls for plain packaging, argued Nadeem.