ISLAMABAD: Health activists have urged the govt to implement the decision of the federal cabinet regarding health levy.

Country head Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids Malik Imran Ahmed, in a statement, said that in June 2019, the federal cabinet announced to impose additional health tax on tobacco products to save children and low-income groups by taking tobacco products out of their spending reach.

“However, prominent members from all political parties have repeatedly blocked this move,” he alleged.

Mr Imran claimed that the current excise tax on cigarettes was lower than the inflation due to which practically cigarettes became cheaper and more affordable than two years ago.

“Therefore, it is important to impose healthy levy immediately otherwise the number of smokers in Pakistan will go beyond our control,” he said.

Program Manager Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) Khalil Ahmed Dogar said that children and low-income people were primary target of tobacco industry and unfortunately tobacco control policies were making these groups more vulnerable.

“Despite the claims of tobacco industry, its products are the leading cause of deaths due to cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular disease. 1,200 children start smoking daily and 170,000 people die due to tobacco induced diseases every year,” he said.

He said that the country was not recovered from financial crisis and cannot afford to lose precious funds on tobacco consumption.

“The government needs to adopt adequate measures for tobacco control and these include imposing health levy and strict implementation of tobacco control laws,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2022

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