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ISLAMABAD: Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, a special aide to the Prime Minister Imran Khan on Interfaith Harmony and 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 a seminar, “Chromatic, Tobacco Industry calls it Revenue, we call it Blood Money,” here in Islamabad, he said that smoking is termed as 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 the all relevant laws to enhance tax on cigarettes to boost its revenue and reduce the health burden.

Awareness campaigns 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 was youth; therefore, it is the responsibility of the clerics, parents and elders to discourage tobacco and smoking among adults and youth.

Ashrafi said that religious clerics will also educate public in Friday sermons on consequences of smoking and tobacco.

He added that the Holy Quran commands to cooperate in good deeds and require to restraint evils in the beginning.

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

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

Taxation ratio on imported and locally-manufactured cigarettes should be increased and 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 among adults and youths.

Sanaullah Ghumman, General-Secretary Pakistan National Heart Association said that smoking is one main reason of heart diseases in Pakistan and all over the world, while pointing out that 1,200 children and adults become victim of this nuisance every day.

He said that drugs usage is rising among girls and women.

He said that Pakistan generates 110 billion rupees revenue from tobacco sector but Pakistan has to disburse almost Rs650 billion on health issues generated from tobacco consumption.

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

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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