As per a Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), Regulations and Coordination estimate over 1200 children between 5 to 15 smoke daily in Pakistan. In Pakistan, there are at least 20m under-aged or minor smokers even though the legal age of smoking is 18 years.
Dr Nausheen Hamid the NHS Parliamentary Secretary stated that as per a 2017 report of World Health Organization (WHO) over 163,000 people die from tobacco use in Pakistan annually.
She said, “This health burden is particularly affecting the youth population. About 1,200 children between the ages of six and 15 start smoking in Pakistan every day.”
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Pakistan has made limited progress against smoking even though there was a strict tobacco control framework. This has been the case because of almost negligible enforcement of the policies on the ground.
There are a few unregistered and unregulated cigarette brands that conduct promotional activities, branding, and merchandising openly. These cigarettes are being sold at Rs25 to Rs30 for a pack. Thus, they are being cheaply offered for youngsters and low-income classes of society.
There are many tactics used to attract youngsters including free samples, prizes, and lucky draws. All these methods are restricted by the government. Furthermore, unregulated tobacco manufacturers are also distributing free cigarette packets.