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‘We know that we are making significant progress because the tobacco industry has really stepped up its game, challenging everything we do,’ says Dr Fouad Aslam, The Union’s focal point for tobacco control in Pakistan. The country’s high and Supreme Court dockets currently feature a raft of cases contesting strong new policies proven to reduce tobacco use.

India’s Ministry of Health has announced that pictorial health warnings covering 85 percent of the display surface of all tobacco products will now be introduced in April 2016.

The pandemic of tobacco-related diseases, global efforts to introduce tobacco control and the tobacco industry’s counter efforts to protect the market for its profitable and deadly products were key topics of discussion at the 5th Conference of The Union Asia Pacific Region in Sydney, Australia this week.

More than 90 per cent of participants in the China City Adult Tobacco Survey 2013-14 supported a total ban on smoking inside public places including healthcare facilities, workplaces, schools and taxis. Over 80 per cent of respondents also supported restrictions on smoking in restaurants.

Civil society groups in Pakistan have issued a high court petition to prevent the Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination from withdrawing life-saving legislation to reduce tobacco use. The new law – which was due to come into force on 31 July – required 85 per cent of the surface area of all tobacco packaging to be covered with harrowing photos of the health consequences of smoking.

Research published today identifies a critical missed opportunity in current TB, HIV and TB-HIV programmes. Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke are known to exacerbate these diseases, but evidence-based strategies to reduce tobacco use are not yet routinely included in treatment programmes.

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