Tobacco tax increase in next budget highlighted

PESHAWAR: Hafiz Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Special Assistant on Interfaith Harmony and the Middle East, on Wednesday urged the government to increase taxes on all tobacco products in the upcoming budget to keep cigarettes out the purchasing power of children and adults.

Speaking at an online seminar titled “Chromatic, the tobacco industry calls it revenue, we call it blood money,” he said smoking is considered the start of all society’s ills and that the government should tax them to become smokers.

He said the government should take steps to ensure the implementation of all relevant laws to increase the tax on cigarettes in order to increase its revenue and reduce the burden on health.

Awareness campaigns should also be carried out through social media to educate young people against extremism as well as the consequences of tobacco and drugs, he suggested, adding that 68% of the country’s population is young. ; therefore, it is the responsibility of clerics, respective parents and elders to discourage tobacco and smoking among adults and young people.

Ashrafi said clerics will also educate the public in Friday sermons on the consequences of smoking and tobacco. He added that the Quran commands to cooperate in good deeds and requires restraint from evils at the beginning.

Speaking on the occasion, Senator Zarqa Taimur said that taxation on the tobacco sector should be increased given the growing demands of the country’s health budget.

She said smoking is a gateway to drugs and narcotics and parents should play a very responsible role in monitoring their children against this nuisance.

The tax rate on imported and locally made cigarettes should be increased and suggested that the local industry should be promoted in the country against imported brands and contraband cigarettes, Senator Zarqa Taimur said.

She said the government should design a comprehensive mechanism to identify the parameters of the business volume of these foreign tobacco companies and that a strict policy should be implemented to curb smoking among adults and youth.

Sanaullah Ghumman, secretary general of the Pakistan National Heart Association, said smoking is one of the main causes of heart disease in Pakistan and around the world, while pointing out that 1,200 children and adults are victims of this nuisance every day. . He said drug use is increasing among girls and women.

Tobacco control activist Dr Zia Ahmed said Pakistan’s tobacco control policies are praised around the world and the WHO has also praised Pakistan’s efforts to control tobacco use in the country.

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