Pakistan among world’s largest tobacco using nations amid 24m active smokers

ISLAMABAD - The health experts on Saturday at a consultative session organised by the Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH), underlined that Pakistan was among the world’s largest tobacco using nations with 24 million active smokers in the country.
The important meeting was held under the auspices of PANAH on “Increase tax on tobacco to protect Young Generation from Tobacco Addiction”  hosted by General Secretary and Director Operations Sana Ullah Ghumman, said a media release.
General Secretary and Director Operations of PANAH, Sana Ullah Ghumman said smoking was one of the leading causes of death worldwide. “According to WHO the most effective solution for tobacco control is to increase taxes on tobacco and make it more expensive. I
t is with great disappointment that we see inflation has resulted in increase in all essential products such as food and medicine but tobacco prices remained alarmingly stagnant since last 5 years.”
“Today about 1200 children start smoking in Pakistan, every day, due to easy availability of cheap cigarettes. That is why the number of tobacco users has reached 24 million. We request the new government under the leadership of PM Shehbaz Sharif to take a rapid action and increase tax on tobacco products by at least 30% to protect our young generation.”
Dr. Sidrah, said that smoking is one of the major causes of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Pakistan , tobacco incurs an enormous health burden of about Rs615 billion on the country, while generates only Rs120 billion in revenue from taxes. “Adverse effects of tobacco are not only restricted to health but extents to an economic burden as well. Raising taxes will help mitigate the health burden while raising additional revenue for the country. Pakistan is one of the most tobacco consuming countries in the world.”
The participants in the meeting said that the government should review the tax policy in the wider interest of the people, especially for the younger generation. “Developed nations like New Zealand are already on a mission to make their children tobacco free completely, while other countries in the region are quickly adapting WHO recommendation of higher taxes to protect their youth. Pakistan must follow the same vision and start implementing stricter policies for tobacco control.”
The meeting was attended by Dr. Sidrah, Squadron Leader Ghulam Abbas, Former Commissioner Income Tax Abdul Hafeez, PML-N female leader Samina Shoaib, people affected by tobacco use , people belonging to different schools of thought and Media persons.

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