Enforcement of additional taxes on tobacco industry demanded

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Economy Watch PEW on Sunday asked the incoming government to take serious steps including imposing additional taxes on tobacco industry in the upcoming budget to discourage its growing usage.

Despite all the halfhearted efforts including the AntiSmoking Ordinance, tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke continues to grow and remained the leading preventable cause of death and disease, said Dr Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

It also results in productivity losses especially among the less fortunate people of the society, economic losses, and a substantial burden on the healthcare system which can be reduced, he said.

Dr Murtaza Mughal suggested that government can slap additional taxes on tobacco industry in the upcoming budget as an effective tobacco control measure which can discourage its use to an extent that it is no longer a significant public health problem. Authorities can also consider amendment in the existing laws which have not proved very effective to discourage the use of tobacco to reduce illness, disability, and deaths.

Comprehensive ban on tobacco advertisement and breaking the tobacco marketing network is imperative to save thousands of lives across the country, he said. Dr Murtaza Mughal said that the undeterred tobacco industry is carrying out hidden promotional activities despite ban while the figures show that banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship is the most costeffective ways to reduce its demand.

Criticising underinvestment in the tobacco control, he said that for every US$9100 received in tobacco taxes, only $1 was spent on tobacco control in the lowincome countries. Tobacco kills one hundred thousand people in Pakistan annually and left millions affected. Globally it kills some six million people each year including six hundred thousand nonsmokers dying by inhaling secondhand smoke.

China has more tobacco consumers than any other country estimated at 301 million; India is second with 275 million users. By 2030 tobacco will kill eight million people per annum majority will be from underdeveloped countries. Mostly, tobacco kills people at the height of their productivity, depriving dependants of their earners and nations of their workforce.