Tobacco control mechanism – A win-win situation for health and economy

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  • Tobacco kills more than 7 million people annually across the globe.
  • The risk factor is high in developing countries.
  • The global economic damage of smoking has been estimated at more than US $1.4 trillion per year.
  • World Bank Group’s Tobacco Control Program helps countries with tobacco tax policy reforms.
  • Tobacco is the biggest killer causing the death of around 160,189 people in Pakistan annually.
  • Pakistan needs to increase tobacco taxes every year.
  • More than 80 percent of the world’s smokers live in lower-middle-income-countries.

Tobacco_control_Pakistan

AIDS/HIV is believed to be the greatest risk factor for damaging human health yet another silent killer is tobacco. Tobacco kills more than 7 million people annually across the globe and accounts for more deaths than HIV/AIDS.

The risk factor is high in developing countries and if the existing trends persist than tobacco will target more than 8 million people worldwide each year by the year 2030.

In Pakistan, hundreds of people die due to the menace of smoking. The incumbent government’s decision of imposing a tax on tobacco products and sugary drinks as a gift on World No Tobacco Day was a step in the right direction still much more is needed to do for discouraging the epidemic of tobacco consumption in Pakistan.

How does smoking affect people?

Smoking affects society both directly and indirectly. Direct effect affects the individual who smokes whilst indirect effect causes the health concerns to all those who somehow inhale the cigarette smoke and treatment expenditures of the chronic diseases caused by smoking cost much to the annual health budget of the countries and restricts the resources that could be used to solve other health challenges.

The economic cost of smoking

According to the information shared by World Bank, the global economic damage of the smoking (including medical costs and productivity losses from death and disability) has been estimated at more than US $1.4 trillion per year which is equivalent to 1.8 percent of the world’s annual GDP.

More than 80 percent of the world’s smokers live in lower-middle-income-countries.

World Bank Group’s Tobacco Control Program

The World Bank Group’s Tobacco Control Program helps countries with tobacco tax policy reforms. By considerably Increasing tobacco prices can discourage smoking, reduce health risks, raise domestic resources for investments that benefit the entire population.

Over the past few years, support has been extended for the enactment of tobacco tax policy reforms in several countries across the world including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia, Philippines, Tongo, Ukraine, and many others.

World Bank’s January 2019 report “Confronting Illicit Tobacco Trade: A Global Review of Country Experience,” provides country evidence that shows that raising tobacco taxes isn’t the primary cause of illicit trade rather it shows that the illicit cigarette market is relatively larger in countries with low taxes and prices while relatively smaller in countries with higher cigarette taxes and prices.


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Also the World Bank’s tobacco taxation agenda aims at condemning a large number of people to avoidable illnesses and premature death by implementing the big tobacco excise duties, attacking the cigarette affordability with the help of heavy taxes, and linking the increased taxes to increased health spending can help generate grassroots support for tax hikes as it proved workable for tobacco taxes in countries like Australia, Philippines, and the United States of America.

Tobacco is the biggest killer causing the death of around 160,189 people in Pakistan annually and the economic cost of smoking amounts to 143 billion rupees.

Tobacco excise tax system was first modified in Pakistan in the year 2013 still the cigarette excise taxes in the country is far below the level in countries that have taken a comprehensive approach to reducing tobacco use with excise taxes account for 70 percent or more of the retail price.

To considerably crackdown and discourage the use of tobacco and related addictions Pakistan needs to increase the tobacco taxes every year as the health levy on cigarettes at the rate of 10 rupees per pack of 20 cigarette sticks is not sufficient enough to save the generations from tobacco-related deaths and diseases.

What measures do you suggest to eliminate the smoking habits of Pakistani people? Let us know in the comment section below

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