Sheesha tobacco import banned govt tells SC ISLAMABAD: The federal government has informed the Supreme Court that it has completely banned the import of tobacco used in ‘sheesha’ (glass water pipe hookah).
In a report submitted to the court, the Ministry of National Health Services said that after banning the import of flavoured and non-flavoured sheesha tobacco, the Ministry of Commerce had also asked Federal Board of Revenue chairman Nisar Mohammad Khan to direct the customs authorities to ensure implementation of a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) of 2016 made in the import policy order regarding the complete ban on sheesha.
The government has submitted the report in compliance with an earlier order of the Supreme Court which had taken up a case relating to tobacco epidemic in the country. The case was initiated by former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on a suo motu in 2006.
The former CJ had taken notice after realising that the trend of sheesha smoking was increasing day by day as a result of which a large number of sheesha cafés were opened in different cities. It was also noticed that such cafés were frequented mostly by the youth, where they also used hard and soft drugs.
The one-page government report stated that the matter came up for consideration by the federal cabinet on Sept 30. It was forwarded by the national health services ministry suggesting imposition of a ban on the import of flavoured/non-flavoured sheesha tobacco and related substance.
The cabinet approved the ban on sheesha through an appropriate amendment to the import policy order issued through SRO. Subsequently, the cabinet’s decision was communicated to the commerce ministry for appropriate amendments to the import policy order, the report said, adding that the ministry had amended the order through SRO 970 (1)/2016 on Oct 13 to ban the import of sheesha tobacco.
In its order, the Supreme Court had also asked the government to advertise harmful effects of sheesha smoking through newspapers, television, billboards, etc, and arrange corner meetings to convince and discourage people, especially youth, from indulging in sheesha smoking.