Tobacco consumption menace for youth, nation: MPs

ISLAMABAD   -   Members of Parliament have called the tobacco consumption as a menace for the youth and the nation and stressed for the joint efforts to reduce the consump­tion in the country by increasing taxes on tobacco products.

This was agreed in an event organized by the Human Devel­opment Foundation (HDF) and partner organizations, bringing together policymakers, experts, activists, and stakeholders to dis­cuss comprehensive approaches to combating the widespread im­pact of tobacco consumption.

Addressing the event, chief guest Member National Assembly Shehla Raza said increase in the prices of tobacco can make it out of reach of youth. She also said the entire nation and all stakehold­ers have to show responsibility to discourage tobacco consump­tion in the society. Shehla Raza emphasized the importance of ef­fective tobacco control measures in safeguarding public health and promoting societal well-being.

On the occasion Maryam Gul Tahir Director Pakistan-based think tank Center for Research and Dialogue (CRD) Survey shows that 18% quit smoking due to an increase in cigarette prices. The survey results have demonstrat­ed that tax hikes promise a win-win for both the public health and the government revenue,” said Maryam Gul Tahir, Director CRD. MP Neelson Azeem said health­care challenges stemming from tobacco-related illnesses in Paki­stan. The nation faces an alarm­ing annual healthcare burden of about PKR 615 billion. Mr. Azeem emphasized the pressing need for comprehensive measures to ad­dress tobacco consumption and its detrimental effects on public health and the economy.

During the event, WHO techni­cal Advisor Shahzad Alam said World Health Organization’s (WHO) presented the study on illicit trade of tobacco and said overall, the illicit trade of ciga­rettes in Pakistan accounted for only 23.1% of the total trade against the claims of the tobacco industry. The findings under­score the effectiveness of high to­bacco taxation as a vital measure in combating tobacco consump­tion, as is advocated by WHO.

Expert Muhammad Sabir, emphasized the benefits of in­creased tobacco taxation, which has already shown significant revenue growth, reaching PKR 122 billion between July 2023 and January 2024.

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