ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan’s Ministry of National Health, Services, Regulations and Coordination (MNHSRC) on Monday has issued show cause notices to various cigarette manufacturer companies over violation of promotional limits.
Taking notice of continuous violations of “The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Ordinance 2002” by various cigarette manufacturer companies, the ministry issued show cause notices regarding these violations.
According to official sources of MNHSRC, it has been observed that various companies were advertising their brands through different means including advertisement boards on shops, free sampling, consumer incentive schemes which are clear violations of “The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Ordinance 2002”.
Taking serious notice of these violations, government has issued show cause notices to Philip Morris Pakistan, Universal Tobacco, Saleem Cigarette Industries/New Kashmir Tobacco and directed the concerns to stop all such cigarette promotion activities and submit written reply as to why legal action may not be initiated against the tobacco companies.
According to details, Ministry of Health SRO 53(KE)/ 2009 and SRO 882(1)2007 issued under section 7 of the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Ordinance 2002 stipulates that free goods, cash rebates, free samples, discounts, goods below the market value shall not be offered for the purpose of advertisement of tobacco or tobacco products to consumers along with banning of tobacco product advertisement boards on shops of more than one square foot.
It is also mandatory to print health warning of not less than 1/5th of total advertisement board. But according to senior official of MNHSRC, Philip Morris Pakistan, Universal Tobacco, Saleem Cigarette Industries/New Kashmir Tobacco are clearly violating these laws and are continuing doing promotional activities for their brands Marlboro, Bond Street, Ranger, Win Star respectively by displaying advertisement boards on shops and consumer incentive schemes.
It is pertinent to note that in order to curb violations of the advertising regulations by the tobacco manufacturers, Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination has approved new guidelines on December 31, 2013 which will be effective from 31st May 2014. According to these new guidelines tobacco or tobacco product advertisements in print media, electronic media, cinema, theaters, branding on garments, posters or banners fixed outside shops, kiosks, mobile trolleys, billboards, on store boards or fascia fixed outside shops, kiosks or mobile trolleys will not be allowed.
According to the experts, compliance of the new tobacco advertising rules and guidelines by the tobacco industry will be a challenge and Ministry of NHSR&C will have to be ever vigilant to ensure compliance of the tobacco regulations in letter and spirit.