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KARACHI: Illegal sale of cigarettes in Pakistan has hampered the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being.

“Major impediment to achieve SDGs is the alarming increase in non-communicable diseases in Pakistan,” said Professor Nadeem Rizvi, former Head of Department of Chest Medicine JPMC and consultant Chest Physician at South City Hospital.

Tobacco is the biggest contributor to the increase in non-communicable diseases, he added.

According to the Federal Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease are collectively responsible for 68 percent of all deaths in Pakistan. In Pakistan, NCDs are causing 51 percent of the total burden of diseases, mostly in the young age group. Pakistan is obligated to achieve the targets set in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). After consideration by the Cabinet, the bill was sent to the FBR after approval by the Law Ministry, which was to be included in the 2019 Finance Bill, but for unknown reasons, this change could not become part of the Finance Bill. He said the total consumption of cigarettes in Pakistan is maintained at 80 billion sticks with illegal cigarettes capturing more than 40 percent of the market.

He said government’s measures and policies to protect public health in Pakistan have failed due to the sale of illegal cigarettes. “Reducing tobacco use plays a major role in achieving the SDG target to reduce premature deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by one third by 2030,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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