ISLAMABAD: Criticising increase in tax on milk for children, the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) has urged the government to get targeted revenue by increasing tax on tobacco products.

The suggestion came during a virtual post mini-budget session with journalists on Wednesday.

Malik Imran Ahmed, the country head of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids Pakistan, said the government increased taxes on milk for children in the mini-budget 2021-22 instead of cigarettes. Increasing the tax on tobacco products could have generated revenue of Rs10 to Rs20bn, he said.

He said four out of 10 children were stunted in the country.

Compared to international giants, imposition of 17pc GST on local milk production will worsen malnutrition rates among children.

Mr Ahmed said the same amount could be generated from the tobacco industry through taxation instead of putting children at stake through cutting off their milk supplies.

Sparc Programme Manager Khalil Ahmed Dogar said evidence-based research revealed that tobacco was the largest silent killer of Pakistan as 438 people died every day due to tobacco use.

He added that children of Pakistan were the biggest targets of the tobacco industry, with around 1,200 children between the ages of six and 15 starting smoking every day.

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2022

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