Islamabad - The tobacco consumption has become one of the leading causes for the outbreak of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) creating huge liability on health sector of the country, speakers said on Wednesday.   

Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) organized a workshop on “Tobacco consumption trends and civil society’s demands from the government” here.

 Addressing to participants Malik Imran Ahmad from Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Pakistan office, shared some tobacco consumption trends in Pakistan like cigarettes, chewed tobacco, pan, biri, betel leaves, betel nuts, snuff tobacco, snooze tobacco, e-Cigarettes.

He said that usage of tobacco is among the five main leading causes for the outbreak and prevalence of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs).

Pakistan yearly spends around Rs. 140 billions on the tobacco related diseases, which is a huge liability on the health sector of the country, he said. He also said that the preventive measures including the imposition of excise in the form of sin tax can help to eradicate the spread of tobacco epidemic in the country. 

Malik Imran further added as per the claims of Health Minister the Sin Tax or Health Levy was planned to be imposed on the tobacco products but eventually, in this financial bill, we have seen the minor increased in tax on tobacco products.

“This reflects that health of our young generations at high risk, not prioritized by government of Pakistan as compared to generate minimum revenues from the tobacco industry,” he said.

Speaking to Participants, Mr Sajjad Ahmad Cheema SPARC Executive Director said that considering the fact that increase in dollar price has had an effect of the increase in the price of basic goods for living prices of tobacco products are still the same which makes it accessible to minors.

He said as civil society organizations and anxious for better future generation of Pakistan we are seriously concerned why heavy taxes are not been imposed on tobacco industry in the Pakistan.

Heavy taxations on tobacco products will reduce the tobacco consumption and decrease the accessibility of minors to tobacco products, he said.  He added that this will not only reduce the health bill of government of Pakistan and contribute to clean and healthy environment for future generations.

“We urge to Government of Pakistan to increase the tobacco taxations to save our children,” he said.

Participants  demanded the government to  implement crucial  measures to further strengthen the tax system:  Regularly increase the excise tax to account for inflation and income growth and reduce cigarette affordability; harmonize all taxes across tobacco products; and fully implement the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Tobacco Trade, particularly the measures for supply chain control, such as license, tracking and tracing and record keeping, and align the Protocol with the legislation on prosecutions and sanctions for tax evasion.