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ISLAMABAD: The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) highlighted the deceptively dangerous marketing tactics of tobacco industry to attract the youth. The press release titled “Tobacco Money is Blood Money” was shared in the wake of a global competition organized by the biggest tobacco company in the world to recruit youngsters as future employees and customers.

Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) highlighted that major tobacco companies now spent $9.1 billion per year nearly $25 million every day to promote their products, and many of their marketing efforts directly reached youth across the world. “Due to influence in policy making and deceptive marketing tactics of tobacco industry, tobacco consumption is not decreasing in Pakistan.”

Malik Imran expressed that it was irrational to think that an industry which was responsible for loss of 170,000 lives and 615 billion rupees every year in Pakistan, would willingly contribute to the career development of youth. “A key reason the industry is able to organize such campaigns and offer lucrative incentives to youth, is the low taxation policies it enjoys in many countries.”

Khalil Ahmed Dogar, Programme Manager SPARC, stated that youth were the biggest victims of tobacco industry, adding due to cheap and easy affordability, around 1,200 Pakistani children between the ages of 6-15 years started smoking every day. He stated that it was imperative that youth across the country was informed about the deceptive tactics of the tobacco industry. “This competition, much like others, is a deceptive attempt to deviate people’s attention from the tactics which tobacco industry has applied all over the world to make profit at expense of public health. The devastating harm to societies and families created by tobacco-related death and disease far outweighs any prize money tobacco companies can provide.”

Shariq Mahmood Khan, CEO, Chromatic Trust, stated the government needed to take a lead in that issue and confront the tobacco industry head on. He stated that Pakistan was a signatory of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which had repeatedly recommended Pakistan to tighten the grip on tobacco industry. The government needs to implement FCTC recommendations which will not only reduce tobacco consumption but also generate much needed revenue for the country. Similarly, the government needs to invest in education and employment programmes so that our youth doesn’t get attracted to such deceptive campaigns.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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