OBSEITY and the use of tobacco are two colossal but preventable public health problems in Pakistan. The new proposed sin tax by the federal government on tobacco and sweetened beverages is a commendable step. If such proposed taxes do get implemented, it will be a major step towards improving the health of Pakistanis.
Tobacco kills 160,000 people every year in Pakistan and obesity is also on the rise in the country. Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980, reaching alarming proportions in many countries of the world including Pakistan. Unhealthy eating habits, increased consumption of sweetened beverages and sedentary lifestyle are the main culprits. Many governments have already imposed such taxes in their respective countries and are now seeing positive results.
These taxes help reduce consumption of tobacco and sugar-sweetened beverages and have been found to be effective. Such taxes are a win-win solution for the government: a victory on the public health front that curbs the smoking and obesity epidemics and saves lives and a financial triumph that reduces smoking-related health care costs and raises much-needed revenue.
I urge the opposition to come forward and support the government in bringing the necessary legislation to enforce this new tax to improve the health of the Pakistani public.
Dr Javaid A. Khan
Chair National Alliance for Tobacco Control
Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2018