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Punjab lacks legislation to curb Sheesha smoking

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Published: April 13, 2016 06:38 pm

shisha punjab assembly

ISLAMABAD: While the rate of tobacco use among youth in form of Sheesha smoking is increasing, the largest province of the country Punjab has no law to curb this practice and law proposed in the provincial legislature is pending for the last two years.

PML-N lawmaker Ch. Shahbaz Ahmad introduced a private members’ bill – the Punjab Prohibition of Sheesha Smoking Bill, 2014 – on March 11, 2014 with the purpose to get rid of this health hazardous habit but unfortunately, it is pending with the Standing Committee for Health for the last two years. Punjab government also submitted a report to the apex court on December, 2015 to ensure safety to the health of youth and curb the menace of sheesha smoking. It was committed to ensure legislation against it but no practical step has been taken so far.

The proposed legislation was aimed to prohibit manufacture, sale, use or import of sheesha smoking in the Punjab and the bill was forwarded to the Standing Committee on Health for further deliberation during the same day of introduction on March 11, 2014.

According to the sources within Punjab Assembly, the Standing Committee on Health has held four sittings since the day of introduction of this the bill. Out of eleven members of the committee, 61 percent members including the Chairman and mover attended each sitting on average but the report has not been finalized so far.

The Health Committee was granted extension in the presentation of report on the sheesha smoking bill during 11th, 16thand 19th sessions of the House but the committee is unable to present its report on said law before the House.

The committee, during past two years while discussing the bill directed the administrative departments to seek approval of the Cabinet on said bill which is mandatory for the passage of private members’ bill under Rule 34 of the Provincial Assembly. However, the Cabinet did not grant approval after the law department objected on the account of financial implications of the law and suggested to make it as the part of already passed anti-smoking law namely the Prohibition of the Smoking and Protection of non-smokers Health Ordinance, 2002.

Mover of this bill said that there is possibility of legislation about it from the government side as apex court after taking suo motu action has directed the federal and provincial governments to curb this trend. He said that Punjab government has submitted a report to the apex court on December, 2015 regarding the safety to the health of youth and curbing the menace of sheesha smoking stating that the government would adopt the Punjab Prohibition of Sheesha Smoking Bill, 2014 soon.

He further said that he would request the House to pass this legislation at earliest. Currently, law enforcement agencies of the Punjab are registering the cases under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1898 against the owners of sheesha Cafes to control the use of sheesha smoking in the province.

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