Health activists for ban on small cigarette packs

ISLAMABAD   -   Health activists have expressed apprehensions that provision of small packets carrying ten cigarettes in market will increase consumption especially among vulnerable groups like youth and low-income individuals.

“Small packs of cigarettes would inevitably find their way back into the local market, directly undermining efforts to discourage smoking among young people and other at-risk demographics,” said Country Head of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), Malik Imran Ahmed, in his remarks.

The tobacco industry had made similar attempts in the past but Ministry of Health did not allow this trend, he said adding the application for 10-stick packs by the tobacco industry was deeply troubling.

He mentioned that excise rules do not allow manufacturers to introduce or sell a new variant of a cigarette brand at a price lower than the lowest actual price within the same brand family.

Similarly, the ban on sale of single sticks, a measure crucial in deterring vulnerable populations, was being flouted, he said.

Programme Manager at the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), Dr Khalil Ahmad Dogar, pointed out the potential damage to public health initiatives if these 10-stick packs are permitted for sale in market.

He warned that such a move would roll back the progress in reducing tobacco use and awareness of its harmful effects.

The health activists’ concerns align with broader recommendations from the IMF, which has recently suggested Pakistan to overhaul its tax system by increasing taxes on non-essential items like cigarettes.

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