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The Union’s Global Implementation Programme launches in Pakistan with Smoke Free Karachi

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The Smoke Free Karachi initiative has launched in Pakistan to ensure that the city’s citizens are protected from the harms of second-hand smoke.

The Smoke Free Karachi initiative has launched in Pakistan as part of The Union’s Global Implementation Programme – a pilot programme funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies to support cities in Pakistan, Indonesia, China and India to effectively implement their tobacco control laws.

Smoke Free Karachi was launched on 9 March 2020 at an event held at the Office of the Commissioner of the Karachi Division, Pakistan, in collaboration with ‘Tobacco – Smoke Free Cities’, an initiative of the Tobacco Control Cell at the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC). ‘Tobacco – Smoke Free Cities’ is a Union funded grant under the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use (BI) Grants Program, through which The Union is currently supporting smokefree projects in five districts of Punjab and in Islamabad.

In the new Smoke Free Karachi initiative, The Union has committed to support two districts of Karachi, and the Commissioner of the Karachi Division, Mr Iftikhar Shalwani, has pledged to implement the programme in the remaining four districts of the city. The Union applauds the commitment shown by the Commissioner and the Karachi administration to ensuring that the city’s citizens are protected from the harms of second-hand smoke.

The launch event was chaired by the Commissioner and was attended by all Deputy Commissioners, Senior Police Officers, the Karachi Municipal Corporation, District Municipal Corporations, as well as representatives from other government departments. All senior government officials of Karachi assured the full cooperation of their offices to support the implementation of Smoke Free Karachi.

At the launch event, the Office of the Commissioner of the Karachi Division was declared a smokefree zone, and the ‘Smoke Free Pakistan’ mobile application was launched, which will allow mobile phone users anywhere in the country to report any violation of tobacco control laws by sending a notification to the respective district administration.

“Patience and determination, supported by the resources and technical support afforded by our dependable partner The Union, has brought in sight an otherwise uphill task of developing an effective model for implementing tobacco control laws in all six districts of Karachi,” said Dr Minhaj-us-Siraj, Deputy Director General of Health, Pakistan.  

“I am proud to see the commitment of the Commissioner of the Karachi Division and his team who are leading this initiative, and joining hands to achieve the ultimate goal of protecting future generations from preventable diseases like cancer caused by tobacco and second-hand smoke.”

In 2002, the Government of Pakistan passed the ‘Prohibition of Smoking in Enclosed Places and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance’, which bans smoking inside public places, and requires no-smoking signage be displayed.

However, in the November 2019 compliance survey undertaken by the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, a partner in the Global Implementation Programme, overall compliance across public places in the East and South districts of Karachi was only 57 percent. Smoke Free Karachi aims to increase this to over 85 percent compliance.

Karachi is the economic hub of Pakistan and one of the biggest cities in the world, with more than 16 million residents. Expanding support for the implementation of smokefree laws through Smoke Free Karachi under the Global Implementation Programme will protect millions of people from harmful second-hand smoke.

The Global Implementation Programme also launched in its first two cities, Yogyakarta and Depok City, Indonesia, last year.