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Pakistan has taken a major step towards banning all tobacco advertising after tobacco giant, Philip Morris Pakistan, withdrew its petition to Sindh High Court challenging a 2014 statutory regulatory order (SRO) that closes loopholes in the existing ban.

On 8 March the world will mark International Women’s Day. This year’s theme ‘gender parity’ is a timely reminder for public health professionals that women in low- and middle-income countries are a prime target for the tobacco industry. Smoking rates amongst this group are as yet comparatively low compared with rates of smoking amongst men, but aggressively targeted marketing aims to increase this figure.

The health risks of tobacco use must now be graphically displayed across 75 percent of the front and back of all tobacco packages in Myanmar, after new legislation was announced by the Ministry of Health [MoH] today. The new packaging will feature images of the health consequences of tobacco use across 50 percent of the surface area, and text warnings in local language across 25 percent. Old packaging will be illegal from 1 September 2016.

‘The strategy for tobacco control is on the cusp of major change,’ says Dr Ehsan Latif, Director of The Union’s Department of Tobacco Control. ‘We need to continue with established work to limit demand for tobacco, but also develop new approaches to reduce the supply. And crucially, we must focus on countering the economic and legal tactics now being used by the tobacco industry to obstruct and delay life-saving public health policies.’

Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, celebrated her country’s progress on tobacco control at the first-ever South East Asian Speakers’ Summit on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, held in Dhaka.

Following a protracted legal battle, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has upheld 2014’s law banning all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship – a victory in the campaign to reduce tobacco use. Implementation of this legislation had been delayed after a legal challenge from Philip Morris Pakistan.

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