The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) held a press conference on Saving Youth by Increasing Taxes on Tobacco on Friday at National Press Club, Islamabad.
Program Manager SPARC Khalil Ahmed Dogar shared compelling statistics from a WHO report saying, that about 1,200 children between the age of 6 and 15 start smoking in Pakistan every day, which they added is due to the affordable price of cigarettes in the country.
One of the proven policies to reduce tobacco use all over the world has been raising taxes, hence this fiscal year the government is urged to raise taxes on tobacco at least by 30 percent. Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) Secretary-General Ch. Sana Ullah Ghuman said tobacco taxation is a critical element of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy.
However, to fully realise these benefits, it is important to understand the impact of increased taxes among high-risk subpopulations. He further added that the tobacco industry is mainly targeting youth which consists of 64 percent of the population which is an easy target for the tobacco industry.
Chromatic Trust Sahriq Khan Program Director said that since young people do not have financial means, they are more sensitive to price increases and more likely to be discouraged from initiating smoking if prices are raised.
He added it is increasingly important to save or youth as Pakistan has one of the largest youth populations in the world and products like tobacco cause poor health and loss of productivity.
He also mentioned the heath costs for tobacco-related diseases and lost productivity is much higher than the revenue generated by tobacco products.
“Hence raising taxes on tobacco by at least by 30 percent is imperative this fiscal year.”