By Sabina Binte Kaleem Khan
It’s 2018, after 68 years of independence, Pakistan is still considered a developing country.
Literacy rate is at 58%.
The Pakistani economy depends highly on agricultural generation. Many factors combined together bring Pakistan down, such as electricity crisis, claimed terrorism, unemployment and the extremes between the rich and the poor.
Roughly around 20 years ago a group of Pakistanis embarked on a journey to build a none profit organization called HDF (Human Development Foundation).
Their vision was to bring a positive change to the Pakistani community. They helped in developing and delivering solutions to 5 key factors, they include social capital development, education, literacy, health care and economic development. HDF help play an active role in rehabilitation work during times of disaster.
Recently they carried out a study to “Assess the volume of illicit cigarette brands in Pakistan and its impact on health”. A number of speakers all collaborated to produce and present this report.
The likes of Dr Wajid Ali, Mr Jamal Janjua, Dr Sania Nishtar and major General Masud-ur- Rehman Kiani.
The report reflected that due to the exchequer providing false information to the government the tobacco industry has caused billions of rupees worth of loss.
75% of tobacco production is in KPK. There are 160’000 deaths per year.
Tobacco consumption is the major contributor to deaths as compared to other diseases.
There are 20million smokers in Pakistan, a heart attack accrues every 3 to 5 minutes and a death every 6 to 7 minutes. The tobacco industry has started to target children , so almost every child has tried cigarette smoking by the age of 10.
The ministry of National Health services (NHS) suggested that high tax levels on cigarettes should be implemented as no other tax exists on other forms of tobacco.
There is a claimed tax called the “sin tax” which is implemented on cigarettes and alcohol. In Pakistan taxes were reduced which resulted in the production of tobacco increasing by 90%. The state has the right to decide tax rates of the nation, at present there are cases going on in the Supreme Court challenging the current tax percentage which is currently 10%.
If we compare cigarette tax rates in Pakistan to the UK, between 1992- 2010 cigarette prices increased by 200%. Which resulted in 51% of smokers quitting. Advertising in the media was banned, boxes of cigarettes started advertising the effects of smoking on health. In the UK there is a ban on sheesha smoking and smoking in public places which further resulted in a 20% reduction in smokers. Again this concludes high taxes results in lower consumption.
In the 2017-2018 budget a third tier was introduced due to which tax rate was reduced in order to stop illicit trade in Pakistan. A study was conducted on ten cities in Pakistan to access the trends. It was concluded that average cigarette prices ranged from 30 to 60 ruppes. 90% were locally manufactured.
The report finally concluded what measures we should take. Firstly the third tier should be abolished. Tobacco/cigarette smoking should be banned in Public places. New tobacco laws and legislations should be implemented, awareness should be raised in people of all ages, the health warnings of tobacco consumption. Awareness needs to be raised on public media and most important tax prices need to increase so consumption levels can decrease. The government need to focus on health of the nation rather then just infrastructure issues because we all know tobacco consumption is a silent killer.