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June 3, 2021

Increase in tobacco tax in upcoming budget stressed

PESHAWAR: Hafiz Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, a special aide to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Interfaith Harmony and the Middle East, on Wednesday urged the government to increase tax on all tobacco products in the upcoming budget to keep cigarettes out of the purchasing power of children and adults.

Speaking at an online seminar titled “Chromatic, Tobacco Industry calls it Revenue, We Call It Blood Money”, he said that smoking is termed as the beginning of all evils in the society and the government should make it costly through taxes to discourage youth from becoming smokers.

He said the government should initiate measures to ensure implementation of all relevant laws to enhance tax on cigarettes to boost its revenue and reduce the health burden.

Awareness campaigning should also be made through social media means of communication to educate youths from extremism as well as from consequences of tobacco and drugs, he suggested, adding that 68 percent population of the country belongs to youth; therefore, it is responsibility of clerics, respective parents and elders to discourage tobacco and smoking among adults and youth.

Ashrafi said that religious clerics will also educate the public in Friday sermons on consequences of smoking and tobacco. He added that the Quran commands to cooperate in good deeds and require restraint evils in the beginning.

Speaking on the occasion, Senator Zarqa Taimur said that taxation on the tobacco sector should be enhanced keeping in view rising demands of the health budget of the country.

She said that smoking is a gateway to drugs and narcotics and parents should play a very responsible role to monitor their children against this nuisance.

Taxation ratio on imported and locally manufactured cigarettes should be increased and suggested that local industry should be promoted in the country against imported brands and smuggled cigarettes, said Senator Zarqa Taimur.

She said that the government should devise a comprehensive mechanism to identify parameters of business volume for these foreign tobacco companies and strict policy should be implemented to curb smoking in adults and youths.

Sanaullah Ghumman, general secretary Pakistan National Heart Association, said that smoking is one main reason for heart diseases in Pakistan and all over the world while pointing out that 1200 children and adults become victims of this nuisance every day. He said that drug usage is rising among girls and women.

Dr. Zia Ahmed, a tobacco control activist, said that Pakistan’s tobacco control policies are being lauded all over the world and WHO has also hailed endeavors on part of Pakistan for tobacco control in the country.