World No Tobacco Day is observed every year on May 31, but Pakistan has a long way to go to end the fight against smoking. Currently, 25 million people in Pakistan are smokers according to the Ministry of Health. In an interview to a local daily, the Director-General, Tobacco Control Cell Yusuf Khan stated that over 1,200 children under the age of 18 begin smoking every day in Pakistan.

Although a new ad campaign has been launched which discourages the sale of cigarettes to underage smokers, but whether or not this campaign makes an impact is yet to be seen. One such ad campaign was posted outside a paan khoka/cabin, but when I spoke to the paan wala, he obviously didn’t know much about it. When asked if he does sell cigarettes to underage smokers, he reponded by saying that he hasn’t come across such a case but he would certainly think about it in the future. It is a known fact that children can easily purchase tobacco products from anywhere without any repercussions.

The onus isn’t on the Pakistan Tobacco Company, it lies with the government. By just putting up stickers and posters asking people to not sell tobacco products to underage children is not the solution, the campaign has to be pursued aggressively, with large fines on anyone who does so otherwise