ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services has tabled an ambitious tobacco taxation reforms proposal for consideration in the upcoming budget to seek Rs24 billion as additional tax revenue that will be used for saving the lives of public.
In a statement on the ‘World No Tobacco Day’, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza on Sunday said that the government has enforced Graphic Health Warning on 60 per cent space of cigarettes packs and outers, banning its sale to under 18 years of age.
He said the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken major strides in the realm of tobacco control. The Federal Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, in coordination with the provinces, has developed a draft national policy to sustain the tobacco control efforts in Pakistan, he added.
“We have under SRO 71 (I) /2020 of “Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non Smoker’s Health Ordinance 2002, banned all forms of Tobacco Advertising, Promotions and Sponsorship and related products.”
Mirza said “We have successfully implemented a Smoke Free Islamabad Model through 85pc compliance of tobacco control laws.” All public parks, high-rise buildings, food outlets and public transport are smoke free in Islamabad.
This model has also been replicated in five model districts and this Smoke Free Model has been acknowledged by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“We will continue to strive to raise taxes, enhance size of Graphic Health Warnings and promote a smoke free society by providing a counter-marketing campaign, awareness against nicotine use and empower young people to engage in the fight against tobacco.”
Mirza called upon every citizen of Pakistan to contribute to this noble cause to safeguard the health and well-being of present and future generations
He said the World No Tobacco Day is observed in Pakistan as elsewhere in the world on 31st May 2020 to highlight the hazards associated with the use of tobacco and spotlight efforts being made by governments, civil society and individuals across the globe to safeguard the health of the people through preventive, persuasive and punitive measures against the use of tobacco.
The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2020 is “Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use”.
He said the global tobacco epidemic kills nearly eight million people globally. More than seven million of these deaths are from direct tobacco use and around 1.2 million are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
SAPM said more than 80pc of these preventable deaths will be among people living in low-and middle-income countries.
In Pakistan tobacco use remains a major public health challenge claiming 160,000 lives annually. Furthermore, 1,200 Pakistani children between the ages of six to 15 starts smoking daily which is alarming.
He said the WHO and the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are calling countries to prioritise and accelerate tobacco control efforts as part of their responses to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), an international treaty to which Pakistan is a signatory, the Federal Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (MNHSRC) has an obligation to develop strategies to protect the health of Pakistanis from tobacco exposure.