Islamabad - More than 125,000 children of less than 15 years consume tobacco in the country daily while the tax on tobacco is far lesser than the World Health Organisation benchmark, revealed a report on Monday.

The report released by the American Cancer Society (ACS) revealed that 125,000 children from 10 to 14 years old daily consume tobacco as they can purchase lower price cigarettes.

According to the report, 160,100 people die every year because of tobacco caused diseases while still along with children 1473,700 adults continue to use tobacco daily.

The report added that according to WHO benchmark, minimum 70 per cent tax must be imposed on tobacco products retail price while excise tax rate in Pakistan is 45.79 per cent only.

The report mentioned that complacency in the face of the tobacco epidemic insulates the tobacco industry in Pakistan, which resulted in increasing tobacco related death toll every year.

Tobacco control advocates must reach out to other communities and resources to strengthen their efforts and bring a change. The report said in adults, more than 41.9 per cent people smoke while the ration of female smokers is 3 per cent. Even though, it said, fewer women smoke in Pakistan than average in the medium HDI countries but there are still more than 2943,500 women who smoke cigarettes daily, making it a dire public health threat.

In 2015, the report said, in children though fewer boys smoke in Pakistan than average in the medium-HDI countries but still more than 86,300 boys smoke cigarettes daily, making it dire public health threat.

In girls, the report said 0.42 girls smoke in Pakistan which is more than the average in medium-HDI countries.

According to report in 2016, 16.99 per cent men die in Pakistan than average in medium-HDI countries. It said that 6.92 women die in Pakistan than average in medium-HDI countries.

The report also mentioned that tobacco industry is a powerful force that does not fear the actions of nation-states because of their extensive resources and global market power.

Head of Network Consumer Protection of Pakistan, a group working to control tobacco consumption in Pakistan Nadeem Iqbal said that introduction of third slab in the pricing of cigarettes have led to increase in the consumption of tobacco.

He observed that alarmingly the ratio of tobacco consumption in children increased as the sale of cigarettes to underage children has not been controlled by the government.

He said that promotional advertisements of tobacco companies have not been controlled along with selling of loose cigarettes in fifty meters area of educational institutions.

He said that the introduction of third slab to control the selling of illicit cigarette resulted in the profit of tobacco industry as the prices of specific cigarette brands were reduced.

A senior official at the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) talking to The Nation said that ministry is mulling to intimate the finance ministry to increase the tax on cigarette in upcoming budget.

He said that NHS has increased the pictorial warning size on the cigarette packs and wants increasing tax to control the consumption.

“Ending of third slab will also reduce the consumption of cigarette as it will increase the price,” he said.

Federal cabinet in its recent decision has also imposed ban on selling of loose cigarettes.