ISLAMABAD: The Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index has called upon governments to ensure transparency while interacting with the tobacco industry as it will help check manipulation of tobacco control policies and their implementation processes.

Its Pakistan chapter said the government did not increase the federal excise duty on cigarettes and tobacco products due to which consumption of cigarettes and other tobacco products increased in pandemic conditions.

The index stressed that the tobacco industry should be required to provide information in a transparent and accurate manner regularly, about production, market share, marketing expenditures, revenues, and any other activity, including expenditure on research and lobbying.

The third Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index launched by Society for Alternative Media and Research (SAMAR), a civil society organisation, working for tobacco control in Pakistan.

The Pakistan index was launched after the global index, a civil society report assessing the implementation of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Article 5.3. The global Tobacco index is based on publically documented industry interference.

Pakistan has been ranked 17th among 80 countries that are measured for tobacco industry interference. There is an improvement in Pakistan as this year score is 48 compared to 50 points from the previous year.

Index informed that governments should require the tobacco industry to submit information on production, manufacture, market share, marketing expenditure, and its revenues.

It said there was a lack of transparency to facilitate deals with the industry.

The index said that corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities are not banned and remain a challenge in Pakistan. The so-called CSR activities to make a decent corporate picture despite the colossal harm they do to general wellbeing. CSR activities of the Tobacco Industry should need to be revised.

Pakistan Tobacco Industry Interference Index said the government did not increase federal excise duty on cigarettes and tobacco products, consumption of cigarettes and other tobacco products increased in pandemic conditions.

Zeeshan Danish project coordinator of the SAMAR said that it was a timely report and hoped that the government would implement its recommendations.

“The tobacco industry is pouring millions to build a positive image of new tobacco products like e-cigarettes to trap the young generation by their front groups. Adoption and implementation of sustained and independent National Tobacco Control Policy is need of the hour to protect youth from the hazards of traditional and new tobacco products,” he said.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2021

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