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ISLAMABAD: Leading health experts, citing data from a World Health Organization (WHO) report on rising tobacco consumption in Pakistan, have urged the government to raise taxes on tobacco by 30 percent to control tobacco consumption among youth in the country.

In this regard, Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) held a press conference here on Friday at the National Press Club, titled, “Saving Youth by Increasing Taxes on Tobacco” and requested the government to ensure control on tobacco by raising taxes in 2021-22 on tobacco by minimum 30 percent.

Khalil Ahmed Dogar, Programme Manager, SPARC shared compelling facts from a WHO report saying, that about 1200 children in Pakistan between the age of 6 and 15 start smoking every day, which they added is due to the affordable rates of cigarettes in the country.

He cited that in Pakistan alone about 166,000 people die due to tobacco related diseases.

One of the proven policies to reduce tobacco control worldwide has been raising taxes, hence this fiscal year the government is urged to raise taxes on tobacco at least by 30 percent.

Chaudhry Sana Ullah Ghuman, Secretary General, Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) said tobacco taxation is a critical element of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy. However, to fully realize the benefits, it is important to understand the impact of increased taxes among high-risk subpopulations.

He further added that the tobacco industry is mainly targeting youth which consist of 64 percent of population which is an easy target for the tobacco industry.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021