Data reveals smoking a serious health issue for low-income countries

LAHORE    -   According to a recent analysis by Our World in Data, tobacco smoking remains one of the world’s most se­rious health issues. The report high­lights that millions of people around the world suffer from poor health due to smoking, and an estimated 8 million people die prematurely each year as a result of smoking. 

This is a significant concern, par­ticularly in low and middle income countries like Pakistan, where the situation is said to be even more precarious than its neighbours.

While the report suggests that there has been a decline in the num­ber of smokers worldwide, Dr Has­san Shehzad from IIUI notes that this trend is primarily due to health levies and higher taxes on tobacco products in developed countries. 

These measures have helped re­duce demand for tobacco products and thus, the prevalence of tobac­co use and the resulting death, disease, and economic costs.

The World Bank study estimates that over 80% of global deaths from cancer, diabetes, heart and lung disease occur in low and middle in­come countries. This disparity is ex­pected to increase based on current tobacco use patterns. Therefore, there is a need for evidence-based interventions such as significant to­bacco tax and price increases, com­prehensive smoke-free policies, and bans on all tobacco product adver­tising, promotion, and sponsorship. These measures would reduce the demand for tobacco products and significantly reduce the prevalence of tobacco use. Khalil Dogar from SPARC believes that increasing the price of cigarettes can make it harder to access them and reduce tobacco consumption. The recent increase in the Federal Excise Duty (FED) on cigarettes in Pakistan is in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), and the public should sup­port the government’s move to dis­courage tobacco consumption. In developing countries, revenue from such taxes can be channeled into health initiatives to alleviate some of the funding needs for the health sec­tor. For example, the ‘sin tax’ reforms in countries such as Egypt, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam provid­ed additional tobacco tax revenues to help finance a significant scale-up of subsidized health insurance for poor families.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt