Anti-Tobacco activists urge to raise taxes on products

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By Ali Imran

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan top social and digital media influencers pledged to create awareness against the use of tobacco in Pakistan. The commitment was made by them in a conference organized by Human Rights organization, Chromatic Trust at Murree in a local hotel on Monday.
The conference started with a comprehensive presentation which included latest research and data of Tobacco consumers, effects on health sector and taxes. Project Manager Chromatic Trust, Mr. Tayyab Raza explained the attendants during his presentation that how smoking tobacco causes death, disease and disability.
The conference urged social media influencers to play their role towards increasing taxes on tobacco products as availability of cheap cigarettes is the reason behind widespread smoking in Pakistan.
CEO Chromatic Trust Mr. Shariq Khan while speaking on the occasion said that according to World Health Organization’s survey 1200 children start smoking every day in Pakistan which is alarming and we need to take immediate measures to protect our youth from this menace. “We want government to further strengthen its law towards tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products”, said Mr. Shariq.
Mr. Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head CTFK said that one in ten deaths around the world is caused by tobacco use and tobacco is the single greatest preventable cause of death in the world. He said that tobacco use continues to grow in developing countries including in Pakistan due to steady population growth, low prices, lack of awareness about its dangers and aggressive tobacco industry marketing efforts.
Dr. Ziauddin Islam, Country Lead Tobacco Control, Vital Strategies and Former Head Tobacco Control Cell Ministry of NHSRC demands for implementation of the National Tobacco control law in its letter and spirit, which includes the increasing the size of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs, implementing of banning the sale of loose cigarettes, implementation of banning advertisement, and promotion at point-of-sale.
He urged the government to increase tobacco taxation as no increase was not done for five years. He further said that there is a need to make cigarettes unaffordable and implement a health levy or health tax that could be used in the health sector to benefit the economy and deter youth to initiate smoking.