ISLAMABAD: Capital Calling, an Islamabad-based think tank, has raised alarm against the surge in the campaign by multinational cigarette companies to resist the guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international bodies.

The think-tank has stated that International Monetary Fund (IMF) has duly recommended to the government that there should be uniformed tax on all cigarettes being manufactured in Pakistan, regardless of their local or foreign brands.

Dr Hassan Shehzad, from IIUI, said that in reality, cigarette prices are lower in Pakistan compared to other regional countries. He said that there is a direct link between reduction in smoking and increase in cigarette prices.

He said it is unfortunate that representatives of cigarette companies dominate public debate, expressing the need for the government to contain this practice as per the WHO protocols that require of the governments to be vigilant about promotion of cigarette business.

He also pressed on the anti-smoking groups to carry out genuine research as the data they have been presenting to the policymakers is old, which needs to be explored. Similarly, awareness about tobacco is almost non-existent on digital media which is an anachronism in this modern age.

Dr Shehzad said that it has been observed that these companies are competing with one another to increase smoking in the society but they come on the same page to influence the government into facilitation of their business, which by and large is a health hazard.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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