Research shows costly cigarettes can control smoking

ISLAMABAD     -    The share of smokers among Pakistani youth has significantly been increasing each year while globally it has been falling due to higher taxes and awareness, leading to a major decrease in health problems and deaths. The trend is expected to reverse by the recent hike in taxes on cigarettes, shows the latest research. The number of deaths from smoking is falling in rich countries; rising in low-to-middle income countries like Pakistan, it said. Tobacco smoking is one of the world’s largest health problems. Millions of people live in poor health because of smoking and researchers estimate that every year around 8 million people die an early death due to smoking, according to a research report. In Pakistan, around 337,500 people die due to smoking each year while causing a burden of around Rs620 billion on health facilities. The government jacked up the Federal Excise Duty (FED) on cigarettes in February to discourage its use and boost its revenues, but the multinational tobacco companies have been lobbying to reverse it. Anti-tobacco activists have urged the government to further increase taxes on the tobacco products to discourage their use especially among the youth. They say that around 1200 children were taking up smoking in Pakistan daily which was pushing share of the smokers up unlike the developed and many developing countries. They said the trend could be arrested only through increase of taxes, making the cigarettes out of the reach of children. The World Health Organisation says that raising taxes on tobacco products which lead to increases in their price makes tobacco less affordable. When tobacco becomes less affordable people use it less and youth initiation is prevented, view the experts. Because youth and low-income groups are more responsive to increases in tobacco prices, they disproportionately enjoy the health and economic benefits of quitting and not starting. The WHO said that saving lives with tobacco taxes lessens the enormous healthcare burden and economic losses that result from tobacco-related disease

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