ISLAMABAD-Speakers on Wednesday urged the government to regulate tobacco products for funds generation and spending on health sector.

In an online discussion held here, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Human Development Foundation (HDF) stated that the government has announced the provision of relief to vulnerable segments of society, especially, labour and daily-wagers as a top priority of the government.

He said taxing the non-essential products should be the way forward. He said last year the cabinet had approved a bill that would have raised Rs 10 on per cigarette packs and Rs. 1 per 250ml of sugary drinks. This would have earned the country about Rs. 50 billion in revenue, which could be used for the healthcare system which is already stressed due to the pandemic.

Tobacco use in itself is an epidemic recognized by the World Health Organization and claims over 160,000 lives in Pakistan alone. He further stressed that this time is very relevant to minimize the consumption of tobacco products as tobacco consumers are 14 times at a greater risk of becoming a victim of COVID 19.