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Urgent reforms urged in tobacco taxation

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KARACHI: Anti-smoking campaigners demanded from the government to enforce “Anti-Tobacco Laws” and must ensure educational institutes ‘No smoking zone’.
SPARC the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child organized ‘World No Tobacco Day’ this year 2021 having theme “Commit to Quit” to make Karachi a Smoke-free city through and the implementation of the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance of 2002 at Scouts auditorium, Karachi here on Monday.
Speaking about Sparc’s campaign ‘Let’s make Karachi Smoke-free: Dr. Sajjad Qasir General Secretary Pakistan Medical Association revealed the percentage of female smokers has increased from 15 % to 45 % that reflecting our vulnerable societal picture.
He said that every year the policy makers of the tobacco industry have to try to manipulate and the result is more than death of in Pakistan, tobacco use is a cause of death of around 170,000 persons every year while almost 23.9 million adults currently use tobacco in any form in the country, according to the Tobacco Control Cell of Ministry of National Health Services.
COVID-19 pandemic made everyone realize that our existing resources are insufficient to any health emergency. Revenue generated from the health levy could have been utilized for pandemic control and guarantee better health for our people.
Shumaila Muzammil, Project Manager SPARC, shared that Pakistan is one of the 15 countries worldwide with the heavy burden of tobacco related ill health issues. She said around 1200 Pakistani children between ages of 6 to 15 years start smoking every day according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) results of 2015. She added the country’s 50pc population consists of children who are directly suffering from direct and second-hand smoking.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Seemab Asif Assistant Professor St. Patrick’s Colleges, with coordination of SPARC we successfully make our schools and colleges complete smoke free SPARC also organize sessions with school management and with school to create awareness. She said that increase in taxation will result in increase in price and that will start crime committing activities in our children to buy cigarettes. She added that in Law 50-meter radius must be extended up to 250 meter, so as maximum distance we keep tobacco related tobacco from children.
Muhmmad Kashif Mirza Manager Media and Communication from SAPRC says, Tobacco-related diseases have been causing a loss of Rs615 billion to the national exchequer per annum, according to a latest report by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE). This amounts to 1.6pc of the country’s GDP, which experts said, could be reduced significantly by imposing health levy on tobacco products.
Govt of Sindh still on were to introduce its own law to control the tobacco smoking even federal govt still didn’t make rule of business which is long due. Government should have considered the growing inflation rate while finalizing the taxes on tobacco products for fiscal year 2021-22.
While sharing the achievements of SPARC he says we took up this challenge and lobbied with the Chief Minister Office, Chief Secretary Office, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and District Administration. As a result, KMC and several government departments have appointed focal persons to undertake this issue in their respective domains. Furthermore, the Tobacco Control Cell in District South has been reactivated, and the Implementation Monitoring and Committee (DIMC) has been established in District South.