Tobacco consumption menace for youth, nation: MPs

Tobacco consumption menace for youth, nation: MPs

ISLAMABAD, May 17 (DNA): Member of parliaments have called the tobacco consumption as a menace for the youth and the nation and stressed for the joint efforts to reduce the consumption in the country by increasing taxes on tobacco products.

This was agreed in an event organized by the Human Development Foundation (HDF) and partner organizations, bringing together policymakers, experts, activists, and stakeholders to discuss comprehensive approaches to combating the widespread impact of tobacco consumption.

Addressing the event chief guest Member National Assembly Shehla Raza said increase in the prices of tobacco can make it out of reach of youth.

She also said the entire nation and all stakeholders have to show responsibility to discourage tobacco consumption in the society.

Shehla Raza emphasized the importance of effective tobacco control measures in safeguarding public health and promoting societal well-being.

On the occasion Maryam Gul Tahir Director Pakistan-based think tank Center for Research and Dialogue (CRD) Survey shows that 18% quit smoking due to an increase in cigarette prices. The survey results have demonstrated that tax hikes promise a win-win for both the public health and the government revenue,” said Maryam Gul Tahir, Director CRD.

MP Neelson Azeem said healthcare challenges stemming from tobacco-related illnesses in Pakistan. The nation faces an alarming annual healthcare burden of about PKR 615 billion. Mr. Azeem emphasized the pressing need for comprehensive measures to address tobacco consumption and its detrimental effects on public health and the economy.

During the event, WHO technical Advisor Shahzad Alam said World Health Organization’s (WHO) presented the study on illicit trade of tobacco and said overall, the illicit trade of cigarettes in Pakistan accounted for only 23.1% of the total trade against the claims of the tobacco industry. The findings underscore the effectiveness of high tobacco taxation as a vital measure in combating tobacco consumption, as is advocated by WHO.

Expert Muhammad Sabir, emphasized the benefits of increased tobacco taxation, which has already shown significant revenue growth, reaching PKR 122 billion between July 2023 and January 2024.

He said full-year projections exceed PKR 200 billion, representing a substantial increase compared to previous fiscal years.

The event concluded with a commitment to continued collaboration in the fight against tobacco use.

The symposium provided a platform for meaningful engagement and collaboration among stakeholders, reaffirming the collective resolve to implement evidence-based strategies for tobacco control in Pakistan.