ISLAMABAD: Former caretaker Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi said there is urgent need to increase taxes on tobacco products in coming budget (2024-25) to save Pakistani youth and economy.

In a collaborative effort to tackle the urgent issue of tobacco consumption in Pakistan, the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) Wednesday organized an event to celebrate “World No Tobacco Day-2024”.

Former Caretaker Minister of Information and Broadcasting of Pakistan Murtaza Solangi while speaking at this occasion shared that, Pakistan has the largest generation of young people ever recorded in national history. However due to relaxed tobacco control policy in Pakistan, this group is severely exploited by tobacco industry, putting their health and future at extreme risk.

Tobacco and Nicotine addiction serves as a gateway to many other forms of substance abuse and may cause serious health and mental health issues among youth. If the attempts of tobacco industry to attract young customers are not kept in check through proper mechanisms, they will grow more powerful and keep being the cause of deaths and diseases in the country.

He further added that, Pakistan faces a significant challenge with widespread tobacco consumption, with over 31.9 million adults aged 15 years and above identified as current tobacco users, constituting nearly 19.7% of the adult population. Smoking-related illnesses claim over 160,000 lives annually, both the World Health Organization and the World Bank have consistently recommended Pakistan to improve its tobacco taxation.

Malik Imran Ahmad, Country Head Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) said that a 26.6% FED increase for the fiscal year 2024-25, appears to be a significant step forward. Not only could it help recoup a substantial portion of healthcare costs, but it also has the potential to discourage hundreds of thousands of individuals from smoking. Additionally, the projected revenue increase could be valuable for funding various public health initiatives and strengthening the national economy.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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