Great initiative by Prime Minister to save youth by increasing tobacco tax


Health activists have appreciated government’s stance on increased tobacco taxes. During an event organized by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), health activists stated that this decision will help Pakistan’s economy provided that the government remains steadfast by not falling to tobacco industry’s misinformation campaign.
Malik Imran, Country Head, Campaign for tobacco-free kids (CTFK), mentioned that Tobacco is the largest silent killer in Pakistan as above 170,000 people die due to tobacco use each year. This pandemic also causes an annual economic burden of 615 billion which is 1.6% of Pakistan’s GDP.
The industry claims to be the biggest major tax payers but the revenue generated from the tobacco industry is only 120 billion. He mentioned that on average Pakistani smokers spend 10% of their monthly income on cigarettes. Therefore this increase will make cigarettes go out of reach of low income citizens and children and thus saving them for its harms.
Malik Imran also mentioned that since deadly products of tobacco industry are snatching people’s precious resources, it is only fair that the industry is made to pay for the damages it is causing. Therefore the tobacco industry has no grounds to play victim card. Instead of listening to the misinformation spread by tobacco industry, everyone must appreciate government’s decision which is in interest of Pakistan’s health and economy.
Dr. Ziauddin Islam, Former Technical Head, Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of Health, mentioned that increased prices remain the most effective tool in keeping these killer products away from spending power of children and low-incomed groups.
He thanked the Prime Minister for increasing FED in February and added that this good step shouldn’t remain a onetime activity. Keeping World Health Organization’s recommendation in consideration, Pakistan should increase taxes on regular intervals so that inflation and per capita income is accounted for and Pakistanis remain protected from harms of tobacco products.
Khalil Ahmed Dogar, Program Manager SPARC said that the children of Pakistan are being targeted by the tobacco industry so that “replacement smokers” could be recruited. Around 1200 Pakistani children between ages of 6-15 years start smoking every day.
The sale of cigarettes to minors and near educational institutions remains a constant worry in the country. Khalil added that there shouldn’t be any politics on child rights. Anyone who takes a good step must be appreciated and supported. Increasing tobacco taxes is such a step. All stakeholders must cast their differences aside and unite to protect our children and youth from the harms of tobacco.