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ISLAMABAD: Expressing concern over the unregulated spread of vaping products, tobacco control advocates on Friday requested the federal government to introduce smart regulations which should keep these products out of reach of children.

However, the said products should remain easily accessible to those who want to quit cigarette smoking, they added.

Referring to the reports, experts highlighted that Federal Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC) is reviewing a Federal Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation’s (NHSR&C) draft statutory regulatory order (SRO) to regulate RRPs (Reduced Risk Products) including E-cigarette, Heat-Not-Burn tobacco products (HTPs) and vaping products. Headed by the federal law minister, CCLC also has finance, interior, commerce, and communications ministers as its members. The CCLC examines the proposed law or regulation with reference to the constitution and government policy and make recommendation to the federal cabinet.International scientific researchers have found RRPs substantially safer than conventional combustible cigarettes. As a result, many developed countries have adopted them as cessation aids for those who want to quit cigarette smoking. This aim is to reduce disease burden from the health system.

Welcoming the NHSR&C move, QBAL, a health policy research organization, stated that with this, NHSR&C will be adopting the missing harm reduction strategies from World Health Organization’s (WHO) tobacco control.

Pakistan is a signatory to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which states that “tobacco control” means a range of supply, demand, and harm reduction strategies that aim to improve the health of a population by eliminating or reducing their consumption of tobacco products and exposure to tobacco smoke.

“To date, Pakistan has only focused on demand reduction measures. Now it’s time that through smart regulation, to further health rights of the people, harm reduction strategies should also be incorporated in tobacco control,” says QBAL. RRPs regulation is one such measure.In countries across the globe, alternative and less harmful tobacco products are being regularized under various laws and policies. The global data shows that most of the world is moving towards regulating alternative tobacco products.

Overall, regulating alternative and innovative tobacco products is still evolving in Pakistan. In case of Japan, almost 72% of smokers switched to IQOS (I quit ordinary smoking) products, achieving a 7 out of 10 conversion rate among adult smokers.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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