Tobacco industry blamed for pushing children towards smoking

Published August 7, 2021
Deputy Director, Ministry of National Health Services, Dr Samra Mazhar speaks at the seminar on Friday. — INP
Deputy Director, Ministry of National Health Services, Dr Samra Mazhar speaks at the seminar on Friday. — INP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan National Heart Association (Panah) general secretary Sanaullah Ghumman on Friday said children were the country’s future and the tobacco industry was adopting various tactics to push them towards smoking.

He said the tobacco industry misled policymakers in the name of generating more revenue by involving influential stakeholders, actors, singers and athletes.

“We all must expose this propaganda,” he said while addressing a press conference organised by the association.

“According to the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (Pide), the availability of cheap cigarettes in Pakistan is a major cause of smoking among the youth, 60pc of smokers start smoking during adolescence.

“According to Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), the annual consumption of cigarettes in Pakistan was Rs86.6 billion. This is a worrying moment for us,” he said.

On the other hand, he said, the tobacco industry was misleading the government by claiming a loss of Rs77 billion on illicit trade.

“Given the fact that the illicit trade in tobacco in the country is not more than 10 to 15pc, if the illicit trade had exceeded the limit, a copyright case would have been registered by the tobacco industry,” he said, adding cigarette consumption increased by 90pc in 2017-18 after implementation of the third tier due to poor strategy.

“A recent report by the World Bank has made it to impose 30pc federal excise duty (FED) on tobacco every year to reduce tobacco consumption and increase revenue in Pakistan. The annual revenue of Rs134 billion will be achieved,” he said.

Ministry of National Health Services Deputy Director Dr Samra Mazhar said health of the nation was the basic duty of government.

“As we are aware, laws are being strengthened to prevent health hazards, children are our future, every propaganda will be exposed to save our children,” he said.

Health Services Academy Vice chancellor Prof Dr Shehzad Ali Khan said children of the nation are the priority of the government, effective measures should be taken to protect young boys and girls from tobacco as health cannot be compromised in any way. “Effective action is a matter of urgency,” he said.

Punjab Advisery Committee Chairperson Iram Mumtaz, former MPA Tehseen Fawad, Khalil Ahmed from Sparc, Sharq Khan from Chromatic along with others said that smoking is the first step towards drug addiction.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2021

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