Rawalpindi: According to Sana Ullah Ghumman, the Director Operations and General Secretary of Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH), there have been significant surges in the three-year tenure of the PTI government in the prices of essential commodities. But unfortunately, the tobacco industry hasn’t experienced similar hikes in their product prices, despite tobacco being a health hazard. 

The ever-increasing use of tobacco products remains an alarming concern for PANAH and other authorities that look after the health statistics of the general public of Pakistan. According to recent data releases, tobacco-related diseases have been a cause of over 170,000 deaths in Pakistan per annum. 

Sanah Ullah Ghumman suggests that to reduce these numbers in a low-income country like Pakistan; there should be a tax increase of at least 10 per cent on all tobacco products to reduce their consumption to up to 8 per cent. He enlisted several life-threatening diseases that can take birth due to tobacco usage, including coronary cardiac issues, different types of cancers, and other disabilities.  Public health experts have shown their concerns on this matter on various occasions. They are now calling out the “Naya Pakistan” government to take measures to increase taxes on tobacco products.

However, the government must note that any further tax rises may increase the sale of illicit tobacco products sold by non-taxpaying local manufacturers. It may also add to the market share of the illegal tobacco industry, which has continued to affect our national tax revenues and economy. 

Keeping the concerns of health experts and legal tobacco manufacturers in mind, it’s high time government analyzes the grey areas in their policies to control the illegal manufacturing and supply of tobacco products. In the long run, this will ensure the betterment of the public’s health and legal tax-paying tobacco industry as it has remained a significant contributor to the national revenue. 

Source: The News, October 31, 2021