Islamabad – January 2, 2023: Implementing the pending Tobacco Health Levy Bill can help Pakistan in overcoming the current financial challenge. The additional 60 Billion Rupee revenue will not only help in reducing the damage caused by tobacco industry to health and economy but also enable Pakistan to improve its healthcare infrastructure. These views by shared in a press release issued by Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) to urge the government to impose of Health Levy on tobacco products to save Pakistani children and youth from the pandemic of tobacco.
Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), stated that 2022 was a challenging year for Pakistan’s economy. All the factors which have contributed in derailing our economy are discussed in detail except one i.e. tobacco industry. Due to cheap and easy affordability of tobacco products, the economic cost of smoking in Pakistan is PKR 615.07 billion which is equal to 1.6% of Pakistan’s GDP but the revenue generated from the tobacco industry is only 20% of the total cost. In 2019, Federal Cabinet approved a bill to impose Health Levy (Additional tax) on tobacco Products to decrease consumption and generate 60 Billion Pakistani Rupees per Year. However influenced by the tobacco industry, many policy makers have continuously block the bill and as a result Pakistan’s healthcare and its economy have suffered miserably.
Dr. Ziauddin Islam – Country Lead – Vital Strategies; Former Technical Head/Director, Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of NHSR&C shared alarming statistics that 1200 children beginning smoking daily and 170,000 people die due to tobacco induced diseases every year. In order to ensure that the number of smokers in Pakistan, which is already at 31 Million, does not go beyond our control, health levy must be imposed and the revenue generated must be invested on public health schemes.
Khalil Ahmed Dogar, Program Manager, SPARC, mentioned that in 2022 Pakistani children were hit badly with climate change, viral diseases, and poor nutrition due to inflation. We can’t afford to put their health in any further risk. However tobacco industry doesn’t care that. They only care about their profits. It is responsibility of government to stand with children. Health Levy Bill must be presented in Parliament so it can become an Act and can be implemented across the country. Any delay in this regard will further derail our healthcare system and economy.