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2,000 children becoming smoker every month: seminar

By Bureau report
May 22, 2023

PESHAWAR: Up to 2,000 children become active smokers every month in Pakistan and they spend thousands on leisure that can ultimately lead to life-threatening diseases, stated speakers of a seminar here on Sunday.

Quoting a study, the speakers at the event said that the numbers of smoking addiction are alarming, especially in a country where inflation is set to hit 50 percent - the highest in South Asia.

Cigarettes are cheaper than necessities such as wheat in Pakistan, they said and added that a 5kg bag of flour, which barely lasts two weeks in a family of three, is more expensive than an average box of cigarettes. The high cost of living in Pakistan is evident in statistics. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 11.1 per cent in April 2021 compared to the same month in the previous year.

The CPI for food and non-alcoholic beverages increased by 14.6 per cent during the same period. This means that the average Pakistani household is spending a significant portion of their income on basic needs such as food and beverages.

The speakers said several factors have contributed to the rising cost of basic needs in Pakistan. One of the main factors is inflation, which has led to an increase in the cost of goods and services. Additionally, the shortage of supply has led to an increase in demand and prices. The government’s policies, such as taxes and tariffs, also play a role in the rising cost of basic needs.

These factors combined have made it difficult for the average Pakistani to afford necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter. On the other hand, tobacco products are not as expensive in Pakistan as they should be. Although the government imposes taxes on tobacco products, these taxes are not enough to reflect the true cost of smoking.

“Smoking has a significant impact on the health of individuals, and the costs associated with treating smoking-related illnesses are substantial. In addition to the health costs, smoking also hurts the economy, as it reduces productivity and increases healthcare costs,” he added.

Moreover, the tobacco industry in Pakistan is a powerful lobby, with significant political influence. This has allowed them to push back against attempts to raise taxes on tobacco products or to implement other measures aimed at reducing smoking rates in the country.