It has been observed through a recent survey by the WHO that over 20 million people in Pakistan smoke excessively, majority of which is the youth population. Even the portion of the public that’s educated and aware of its effects indulge in the activity due to social norms and pressures. Our government generates a considerable amount of its revenue, 200 billion per annum precisely, from tobacco companies in the form of sales tax and custom duties. 

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Despite the fact that the tobacco companies employ thousands of people and is one of the reasons for the developing of our economy, the cost for countering the adverse effects of smoking – like various forms of cancer, heart attacks and increased blood pressure – by building hospitals and importing medicines along equipment for the treatment of diseases takes away a significant portion of the budget available. Not only that but it limits the working capacity of individuals thus leading to decreased levels of output and creating a deficit for many companies. 

It is requested that strict and urgent steps be taken to curb the issue. For example, smoking can be prohibited in public areas, sale of tobacco to minors banned or made a crime, checks on media for the glamorisation of the act of smoking, drastic increase in prices to discourage individuals from buying cigarettes and awareness campaigns can be held for the public. 

ZEESHAN NOOR,  

Karachi, November 12.