Tuesday November 28, 2023

Smoking among kids increasing daily

By Our Correspondent
May 05, 2023

Islamabad:Over 1,200 children in Pakistan were starting smoking daily and the number of smokers was increasing which should be discouraged through the taxes, anti-tobacco activist and Chromatic Trust CEO Shariq Khan has said.

He lauded the government for raising the FED on the cigarettes, warning that the authorities should not retract the taxes on pressure of the multinational companies. He said the cigarette prices have been revised up across the globe every year, but in Pakistan the tax has been jacked up after four years.

Prices of cigarettes are cheaper in Pakistan than other countries of the region, states a network of academic researchers and professionals. Citing different reports, it states that the cigarette which is sold in Pakistan is low priced than the neighbouring countries.

It states that Pakistan registers higher number of smoking-caused deaths in the region, adding that tier 2 cigarettes are being sold for as low as $0.77 per pack here, which makes the population vulnerable to smoking.

It hails the fact that the government increased Federal Excise Duty (FED) in February through a mini-budget to raise taxes on the tobacco and discourage its consumption among the youth. Anti-tobacco activists said the policy had started bearing fruit, but multinational companies had already started lobbying the government to withdraw the taxes under the pretext of illicit cigarettes.

The multinational tobacco companies have exaggerated the number of illicit cigarettes in Pakistan to 40 per cent, but numerous research studies proved them wrong as the share of illicit tobaccos is just 18 per cent. On presence of illicit cigarettes in the local market, the activists claimed the multinational companies were misleading the government on it just to make cigarettes even more affordable. The tobacco industry was causing a loss of over Rs615 billion to the national exchequer in terms of diseases like cancer to people, besides causing 337,500 deaths every year as per IHME, Global Burden of Disease 2019.