Sustainable measures required to save Pakistani youth from tobacco hazards

Observer Report

Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) organized a session on “Saving Youth from Tobacco Hazards through Sustainable Measures in Pakistan” at a local hotel on Thursday.

In welcome note Ms. Falak Raja, Chairperson, BoDs SPARC said that tobacco consumption among youth in Pakistan is unacceptably high and their use of this addictive product is harming their mental and physical health.

The tobacco control activists in Pakistan are striving to raise awareness that tobacco consumption is not just a health issue. It has serious repercussions on poverty and economic stability, child development, child education and child labour.

Addressing the participants, Malik Imran Ahmad, Country head Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) said that tobacco control policies must be sustainable to create a meaningful impact. He shared that on average, in Pakistan, smokers spend 10% of their average monthly income on cigarettes. Due to this expenditure, people are left with less money available for essentials such as child nutrition and education.

He mentioned that raising tobacco taxes is a proven policy to help reduce tobacco consumption as per the WHO and World Bank recommendations. Unfortunately, cigarette taxation in Pakistan is among the weakest in the world, and this makes them inexpensive and affordable for youth. He urged the government to adopt a National Tobacco Control Policy and strengthen tobacco control cells for effective monitoring and implementation of tobacco control laws.

Mr. Khalil Ahmed, Program Manager, SPARC, shared alarming facts of consequences of tobacco consumption on the health of Pakistanis. According to 2017 World Health Organisation Report, over 163,000 people died from tobacco related diseases in Pakistan in 2017. He added that this health burden is particularly affecting the young population.