The Ministry of National Health Services has taken ‘cosmetic’ measures for implementation of World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to curb tobacco consumption in the country. Officials at the ministry said that the snail-paced implementation of FCTC has paved the way for the multinational tobacco companies to increase their profit. “Still the ministry has not stressed the implementation of sin tax and increase of pictorial warning on tobacco packs,” an official at health ministry said, adding that the plan to generate revenue from increased taxes on tobacco products and spending that money on health infrastructure is still on papers. “The FBR didn’t pay attention to the proposals because the health ministry itself didn’t pursue the case,” the official said. Last year, the health ministry had proposed implementing health tax on tobacco products and in 2018 it had asked FBR to increase tax on tobacco products to spend the additional revenue on health sector.Meanwhile, Special Assistant to Prime Minster on Health Dr Zafar Mirza has said that the tobacco epidemic kills nearly 8 million people globally. “More than 7 million of these deaths are from direct tobacco use and around 1.2 million are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. More than 80% of these preventable deaths will be among people living in low-and middle-income countries,” he said in a statement. “In Pakistan, tobacco use remains a major public health challenge claiming 160,000 lives annually. Furthermore, 1,200 Pakistani children between the ages of 6 to 15 starts smoking daily which is alarming,” he added. Under the FCTC, an international treaty to which Pakistan is a signatory, the health ministry is under obligation to develop strategies to protect the health of the people from tobacco exposure.The health ministry in coordination with the provinces has developed a draft national policy to sustain the tobacco control efforts in Pakistan. “Our Ministry has tabled an ambitious tobacco taxation reforms proposal for consideration in the upcoming budget which seeks Rs 24 billion in additional tax revenue which will be used for saving the lives of public,” the SAPM said. “I am pleased to share that we successfully implemented a ‘Smoke Free Islamabad Model’ through 85% compliance of tobacco control laws. All public parks, high-rise buildings, food outlets and public transport are smoke-free in Islamabad. This model has also been replicated in five model districts. This model has also been acknowledged by the WHO,” he further said. “We will continue to strive to raise taxes, enhance size of graphic health warnings and promote a smoke-free society by providing a counter-marketing campaign, awareness against nicotine use and empower young people to engage in the fight against tobacco,” he added.