70% rise in tobacco taxes, strict enforcement of laws demanded

ISLAMABAD: On the occasion of “No Tobacco Day”, the Coalition for Tobacco Control Pakistan CTC on Saturday demanded for uniform fix high rates for cigarette tax and to allocate a percentage of revenue from the tax amount to health programmes relating to tobacco control in the country.The 60 members of CTC in 43 cities joined hands together on the occasion of “No Tobacco Day” to demand for an effective rise in tobacco taxes and to strictly enforce tobacco control laws on all forms of smoking and smokeless tobacco. People from different walks of life, including local government officials, law enforcement authorities, parliamentarians, health and  education government departments, media, lawyers, civil society organisations, youth, and community participated in more the 96 activities organised in all four provinces of the country.The existing multi-tier tax structure on tobacco applies different tax rates on cigarettes based on their retail prices that allow tobacco industry to fiddle around and pay minimum possible taxes to the government, while garnering larger profit at the cost of smoker’s health. “This is happening only in the developing countries like Pakistan where cigarette tax rates have less impact but the health cost associated to the victims of tobacco use is high. “Considering the high health cost for tobacco victims, we demand for a uniform cigarette tax raise by at least 70% and further, allocating a percentage of revenue generated towards the health programmes in the country,” said CTC National Coordinator Khurram Hashmi.Meanwhile, the district administration of Khushab, with support from the CTC-Pak, declared all government educational institutions “Tobacco free” and orders were passed to strictly enforce tobacco control laws. More than 900 government secondary and high schools in the Khushab District now have achieved this status. A speech competition was held between six schools on the theme of “No Tobacco Day” and prizes were distributed among the winners of the competition. Farz Rehabilitation Association, a member organisation of the CTC-Pak, organised a signature signing campaign at Rawalpindi where they displayed a banner demanding rise in the tobacco taxes. The banner was signed by more than 500 people who appreciated the cause and showed their solidarity. Posters made by the local school students based on the WNTD theme were also displayed. 

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