Dr. Ziauddin Islam, Former Technical Head, Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of Health, said tobacco products are non-essential and hazardous items which cause 170,000 deaths every year in Pakistan. On an average, Pakistani smokers spend 10% of their average monthly income on cigarettes. Due to cheap and easy affordability nearly 1200 children begin smoking every day in the country. A struggling economy such as Pakistan can’t afford this much loss of precious human and finance resources. It is refreshing to see that government took the bold decision of increasing FED on tobacco products that are the major source of our health woes.
Sophia Mansoori, Communication and Program Coordinator, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), said that tobacco induced disease causes an annual economic burden of 615 billion which is 1.6% of Pakistan’s GDP. Although tobacco industry is one of the major tax payers but the revenue generated from the tobacco industry is 120 billion. Therefore the industry can’t claim that it is fulfilling the duty. An industry which is causing such severe damage to people’s health and finances, should not use victim card that it is being ‘burdened’ by taxes. Therefore, instead of listening to the misinformation spread by tobacco industry, everyone must appreciate government’s decision which is in interest of Pakistan’s health and economy.
Syed Kausar Abbas, Executive Director, SSDO, said that given the financially turbulent times, govt. couldn’t have made a better decision than doubling the FED on Cigarettes. The products of tobacco industry are deadly and the harm caused by them should be paid by tobacco industry and not by the citizens. This additional revenue should be utilized in healthcare and education schemes. This is a win-win opportunity for the government which must be capitalized.