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May 30, 2021

Pakistan wins WHO’s No Tobacco Day award

 
May 30, 2021

IslamabadThe World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean has announced World No Tobacco Day 2021 Award for Pakistan for its effective anti-tobacco steps, contrary to this achievement Pakistan disbands its Tobacco Control Cell and fires its head.

‘World No Tobacco Day – Commit to quit’ will be observed tomorrow (May 31) across the globe.

For the achievement of tobacco use reduction in the country, a former head of the Tobacco Control Cell Pakistan and Country’s former focal person for WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Dr. Ziauddin Islam, played important role.

The WHO had called recently for nominations to the World No Tobacco Day Awards of individuals or organizations in each of the six WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control and outstanding contribution to tobacco control.

Dr. Zia said that he and his team had worked for over 10 years diligently to achieve this success, but this annoyed the powerful tobacco lobby in the country who succeeded in getting the Tobacco Control Cell disbanded.

Dr. Zia said the government should also take concrete steps to thwart the influence of tobacco lobby over the officials, so that taxes on the product should be increased significantly in the upcoming budget.

He said the government would have to implement health levy to increase taxes on tobacco products to achieve the 30 per cent tobacco use reduction target by 2025 and keep the current trend sustainable.

High cigarettes price can discourage smoking: Under-18 years smokers should be fined to discourage smoking among the youth bring down spending on tobacco-related diseases in the country. In this regard proper legislation is needed.

The implementation of single taxation system on tobacco products is the only solution for the government to raise revenue for discouraging smoking, said anti-tobacco activists.

They urged the government to ensure single-tier taxation for the tobacco products in the budget this year, adding that different taxation tiers on tobacco products were only benefitting multinational tobacco companies to avoid taxes and contributing to increase in number of smokers in the country.A country representative of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids Malik Imran said during the last four years prices of all other commodities have increased manifold due to inflation in the country, while Pakistan has not increased tax on tobacco products. According to a study the tobacco use in Pakistan was deadly as around 30 million adults (age 15 +) or about 19.1 per cent of adults currently use tobacco. The cigarettes in Pakistan became more affordable in 2020-21 from a combination of no change in the federal excise tax and increases in nominal income and inflation. Pakistan is ranked among the worst-performing countries in the Tobacconomics Cigarette Tax Scorecard with a score of less than one on a five-point scale.

The document said that more than 400,000 people are estimated to start smoking in 2020-21.