Taxation, proper policies vital to check tobacco use among youth

Staff Reporter

This is revealed in a research study titled “Health Implications of Smoking in Pakistan,” published by the Center for Global and Strategic Studies, a public policy institute and think-tank in Islamabad.

The study says that Pakistan is facing crucial healthcare and financial issues due to the increasing trend of smoking cigarettes in the youth and poor implementation of the relevant laws and the policies.

It has suggested the government to closely monitor the situation to ensure that the influence of multinational tobacco industry does not have any effect on the policies being implemented by legislative institutes.

Pakistan is among the 15 states of the world bearing the worst impacts of smoking related health problems, according to the study.

The data shows that 22 million Pakistanis consume tobacco related products daily resulting in deaths of 160,100 individuals annually.

The study further reveals that Pakistan is signatory to the World Health Organisation [WHO] to take effective measures to reduce the demand of cigarettes by applying tools of price and taxes.

The WHO has recommended taxes up to 75 percent of the retail price of tobacco products to discourage its use.

However, the situation does not look good for Pakistan with a score of 0.88 out of 5 on cigarettes scorecard.

The huge influence of the tobacco industry over legislative bodies is a major factor behind the delay in imposition of the tax levy, the study said, adding that the low taxes were also contributing to growing use of the tobacco products in the country.

The study also revealed that although the majority of tobacco consumers are present in low and middle level economies, yet around 60 percent of the population consuming cigarettes daily resides in Asia.

The study concluded that Pakistan was losing at least Rs55 billion in annual revenue for not implementing the federal cabinet’s May 2019 decision of imposing a tax levy on the cigarettes.

The cabinet had recommended an additional tax of Rs10 on each cigarette pack of 20 sticks.

Malik Imran Ahmed, country head of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the government should use the pricing and taxation mechanism to discourage smoking and overcome the related diseases.

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