A notification has been issued in regards to rescinding the concerned SRO in an exercise of power conferred by section five of the prohibition of smoking and protection of non-smokers health ordinance, 2002.
After the withdrawal of SRO, the public will not be allowed to smoke or use tobacco in any form in any place of public work or use.
It is pertinent to mention here that earlier, all public and private offices were allowed to designate a separate place for smokers to smoke within office premises with adequate arrangements to protect the health of non-smokers.
However, such permission was being misused as it had become practice that smokers were using places in offices other than designated areas while many offices had failed to allocate designated places for smokers.
Similarly, taking undue advantage of the permission to smoke in designated areas, individuals and offices were clearly violating the ordinance that resulted harmful effects on non-smokers.
The ban was the outcome of an announcement by Minister for Health Mir Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani who had earlier pledged to withdraw the SRO on World No Tobacco Day.
Representatives of civil societies and the general public have hailed the decision saying this will help protect the health of non-smokers and enforce better the concerned laws.
The government has already declared some places of public work tobacco free, including hospitals, dispensaries, other health care establishments, educational institutions, offices, conference rooms, all domestic flights, restaurants, buses, wagons, trains, indoor stadiums, gymnasiums, lounges of airports, waiting rooms at railway stations and waiting rooms at bus stations.
An official of the Ministry of Health’s Tobacco Control Cell, a body that devises strategies for the implementation of the non-smokers ordinance said that SRO withdrawal will help it create a strict check on law violators with the help of public and concerned departments.
He went on to say a five- year strategic plan of action has been formulated by the cell with a focus on awareness programmes for health officials, professionals, teachers, decision makers, administrative staffs etc.
Health experts claimed that non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke at home and workplaces have a 20 to 30 per cent higher chance of developing lung cancer besides other health complications.
Approximately 0.1 million people die every year in Pakistan from diseases caused by tobacco. According to estimates of Pakistan Medical Society a total of 1.8 million youth between 10 to 24 years of age are at high risk of getting cancer and other diseases from smoking. — APP