Activists for tobacco tax raise to save children

Islamabad   –   Activists of child rights have urged the government to increase tax on tobacco arguing this initiative would contribute a lot in discouraging tobacco usage especially among children in the country. They also expressed concern over the inflated figures and data being provided only to mislead policy makers.

They expressed these views at a consultation session of stakeholders of child rights organized by the Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) and its partner organizations Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) and Chromatic Trust in Murree yesterday.

The tobacco control activists urged the government not pay heed to, what they called, inflated figures and suggested to increase the taxation on tobacco products in order to safeguard Pakistani youth from its harmful effects.

Malik Imran Ahmad, Country Head Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), informed the session that as soon as there’s any talk of increasing taxation according to the recommendation of WHO, the tobacco industry starts a campaign to divert attention towards illicit trade. The industry overstates the percentage of illicit trade, he said.

Khalil Ahmed, Project Manager SPARC, said that 170,000 people die due to the diseases caused and aggravated by usage of tobacco products, which is alarming for the government. In his remarks, Shariq Mehmood Khan, Project Director Chromatic Trust, claimed that due to extensive lobbying, there was no increase in taxation on tobacco products for fiscal year 2021-22. 

According to him, heavy taxation on tobacco products is needed to reduce the tobacco consumption and its accessibility to keep the minors away from tobacco.

Sanaullah Ghuman, General Secretary, PANAH, regretted the government’s decision to disband the Tobacco Control Cell and stated that this move will further strengthen the tobacco industry.

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