Implementation of laws urged to control tobacco usage

ISLAMABAD  -   Expressing grave concerns over the current national-level tobacco control policies, health activists have urged the government to ensure significant improvement in relevant laws to discourage tobacco consumption in the country.

This stance was adopted at a briefing arranged for media personnel by the Human Development Foundation (HDF) to address the critical issue of tobacco taxation in Pakistan on Monday.

In his remarks, Country Head, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Malik Imran Ahmed, said that tobacco use is a leading cause of preventable deaths in the country. The economic burden is equally significant, with smoking-related illnesses and deaths costing Pakistan 1.4 percent of its GDP each year, he added.

Referring to a World Bank report, he said that there was an ample room to increase tax on tobacco products. 

“The government can generate additional Rs. 65 billion from the industry by increasing the tax up to 26%,” he stated.

Malik Imran presented a data- driven proposal for a 26.6% increase in the FED on tobacco products to discourage consumption of tobacco products. Zahid Shafiq, Programme Manager at HDF, said that the local markets are flooded with novel products like nicotine pouches, e-cigarettes, and heated tobacco devices. There is a need to ban all forms of such products immediately before our youth becomes addicted to them.

Further emphasising the effectiveness of this approach, HDF offered an international perspective on tobacco taxation policies. By drawing on successful strategies implemented in other countries, Pakistan has the opportunity to curb tobacco use and generate substantial revenue to bolster public health initiatives.

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