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Concerned mothers’ group demands increase in tax on tobacco products

By Our Correspondent
May 02, 2024
A representational image shows a person holding a cigarette. — AFP/File
A representational image shows a person holding a cigarette. — AFP/File

Islamabad : Key stakeholders were brought together at the launch of a pioneering project aimed at empowering concerned mothers and advocating for increased taxation on tobacco products.

Hosted by the Aurat Foundation in collaboration with CTFK, this event brought together parliamentarians and policy makers, to address the urgent need for action against the detrimental effects of tobacco on families and communities across Pakistan.

The project, spearheaded by the Aurat Foundation, recognizes mothers' pivotal role in safeguarding their children's health and well-being. With tobacco use posing a grave threat to the health of our nation's youth, concerned mothers stand at the forefront of the fight against this epidemic. Through targeted education and awareness campaigns, the project aims to empower mothers with the knowledge and resources needed to protect their children from the harmful effects of tobacco.

During the event, representatives from the Aurat Foundation, Mumtaz Mughal, Director Programmes, Aurat Foundation and Syed Safdar Raza, Project Lead Anti-Tobacco Campaign emphasized the urgent need for implementing robust tobacco control measures, notably through a substantial increase in tobacco taxation. Recognizing the well-established benefits, they underscored that higher tobacco taxes not only discourage consumption but also provide essential revenue for public health endeavours and alleviate the economic strain of tobacco-related healthcare expenditures. The Aurat Foundation called upon the government to prioritize tobacco taxation as a pivotal strategy in reducing tobacco use and protecting the health of forthcoming generations.

Dr. Maheen Malik, Regional Director for South Asia, (CTFK), brought to the forefront the dire consequences of tobacco usage. Emphasizing the severe health risks linked with tobacco consumption, Dr Maheen stresses the immediate necessity for robust tobacco control strategies. Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head, (CTFK), drew attention to the pervasive influence of the tobacco industry, likening it to a formidable mafia that prioritizes profits over public health. Their remarks underscore the critical importance of collective action to combat the harmful impact of tobacco and hold the industry accountable for its actions.

Esteemed members of the National Assembly, including distinguished figures such as Shaista Pervaiz Malik, Huma Chughtai, Sehar Kamran, Dr. Mahreen Razzaq Bhutto, Dr. Shaista Khan, Shahida Akhtar Ali and Naeema Kishwar Khan, highlighted the urgent requirement for a holistic approach to combat the pervasive issue of tobacco addiction in Pakistan. The presence of distinguished parliamentarians underscored the cross-party commitment to addressing the tobacco epidemic in Pakistan. Their participation highlighted the importance of women's leadership in public health advocacy. It signalled a unified effort to enact evidence-based policies and legislation to protect the health of all citizens.

A group of concerned mothers hailing across the country also participated and narrated the ordeal of their children addicted to smoking and use of other tobacco products.

In endorsing the Aurat Foundation's proposal to increase tobacco taxation, all prestigious parliamentarians and other key stakeholders echoed the AF's call for evidence-based policies to reduce tobacco consumption and improve public health outcomes. They reaffirmed their commitment to advancing tobacco control initiatives within the legislative framework, emphasizing the importance of political will and public support in driving meaningful change.