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Health Levy required to protect Pakistani youth from harms of Tobacco

Islamabad August 18, 2022: Health levy on tobacco products is required to save precious lives, which are at imminent fatal risk” claimed health activists in a joint press release shared by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC). The health activists and the child rights organization urged the government to take this step, which has been pending since June 2019.

Malik Imran Ahmed, Country head, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, mentioned that in June 2019, the federal cabinet announced to impose additional healthy tax on tobacco products to save children and low-income groups by taking tobacco products out of their spending reach. However, prominent members from all political parties have repeatedly blocked this move.

Malik Imran Ahmed mentioned that the current excise tax on cigarettes lower than the inflation, hence we can say that cigarettes are more affordable than two years ago. Therefore, it is important to impose healthy levy immediately otherwise the number of smokers in Pakistan will go beyond our control.

Khalil Ahmed Dogar, Program Manager, SPARC, mentioned that children and low-income people are primary target of tobacco industry and unfortunately, our tobacco control policies are making these groups more vulnerable. He added that despite the claims of tobacco industry, its products are the leading cause of deaths due to cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular disease. He expressed concerns that 1200 children beginning smoking daily and 170,000 people dying due to tobacco induced diseases every year.

Khalil Ahmed further stated that the country is still not recovered from financial crisis. Therefore, we cannot afford to lose precious funds on tobacco consumption. The government needs to adopt adequate measures for tobacco control and these include imposing health levy and strict implementation of tobacco control laws.

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