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PM’s call for higher tobacco taxes earns praise

By Our Correspondent
June 10, 2024
Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif is seen in this image. — AFP/File
Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif is seen in this image. — AFP/File

Islamabad : Anti-tobacco and health activists across the country have welcomed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's statement issued on World Tobacco Day, which strongly discouraged tobacco consumption and advocated for increased taxation on the tobacco industry.

The statement has been hailed as a step forward for the anti-tobacco movement in the country, which has long been demanding for stricter regulations and higher taxes on tobacco products. “We are positive to see the Prime Minister taking a bold stance against the tobacco industry,” said Maryam Gul Tahir director at The Centre for Research and Dialogue (CRD).

She said this is a crucial step towards protecting the health and wellbeing of our citizens, especially our youth. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco consumption is responsible for over 160,000 deaths in Pakistan every year. Anti-tobacco activists have long been pushing for increased taxation on tobacco products, citing the proven effectiveness of this strategy in reducing consumption.

PM Shehbaz Sharif's statement has also drawn attention to the need for stricter regulations on the tobacco industry, including a ban on tobacco advertising and promotion. "The tobacco industry has long been exploiting our youth with its deceptive marketing tactics," said Gul.

She said "We welcome the Prime Minister's commitment to protecting our youth from the harmful effects of tobacco." The Prime Minister's statement has set a positive tone for the country's efforts to combat tobacco consumption.

Anti-tobacco activists are now calling on the government to take concrete steps to implement the Prime Minister's vision, including increasing taxes on tobacco products and enforcing stricter regulations on the tobacco industry. Malik Imran Ahmad country head Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) said that, higher taxes on tobacco products can lead to increased revenue for the government.

"Pakistan currently holds the highest proportion of young people, as 64% of the total population of Pakistan is below the age of 30," he said. Tobacco activists believe that with the Prime Minister's support, Pakistan's anti-tobacco movement is poised to make significant progress in the coming years.