Saira terms tobacco as barrier to development

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ISLAMABAD, Jun 1 (APP): Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar on Thursday said that tobacco use has devastating health consequences and termed
it a major barrier to the development.
Addressing a seminar jointly organized by Ministry of National
Health Services, Regulations and Coordination and World Health
Organization (WHO) on tobacco control initiatives, the minister said
that tobacco worsens poverty and damages health.
She said that globally each year, more than seven million
people die from tobacco use. This figure includes 900,000 that die
from exposure to second hand smoke, she added.
Over 80 percent of these deaths occur in low- or middle-income
countries.
She assured that the ministry is fully committed with WHO’s
FCTC agreement to safeguard the health of citizen of Pakistan from
deadly diseases caused by tobacco.
She urged to have participation from provincial and local
governments, public, media and all stakeholders in national and
subnational efforts of tobacco control to enforce and implement
strategies, plans and achieve goals that prioritize action on
tobacco control.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Mohammad Assai, WHO
Representative Pakistan said that in Pakistan, 23.9 million adults
(31.8% of men, 5.8% of women) currently use tobacco in any form.
Among the youth (13-15 years of age), 13.3 % boys and 6.6 %
girls are current tobacco users. At global level each year, more
than 7 million people die from tobacco use.
He said that over 80% of these deaths due to tobacco use occur
in low- or middle-income countries. These countries bear almost 40%
of the global economic cost of smoking from health expenditures.
National Professional Officer WHO, Shahzad Alam Khan said that
the use of tobacco is a real public health issue. Women and youth
are the prime targets of the tobacco industry.
He lauded the steps taken by the Ministry of National Health
Services towards tobacco control. However, he underlined the need to
raise the Federal Excise Duty to the tune of 70% of the retail
price.
Shahzad Alam Khan said that 10% increase in tobacco taxation
reduces the tobacco consumption by around 8% in the low income countries.
He also highlighted the importance of uniform tobacco taxation
and an efficient tax administration system.
He said it is high time that Pakistan should implement
tracking and tracing system which would be a critical step to
control illicit tobacco trade.
Other speakers said that tobacco is a cause of death of around
108,800 Pakistanis every year.
They said that almost 24 million adults currently use tobacco
in any form. That accounts for 15.6 million adults who currently
smoke tobacco, including 3.7 million adults using water pipes,
hookah or shisha, and another 9.6 million adults who use smokeless
tobacco.
They said that almost 15 out of 17 SDGs are linked to tobacco
control. They highlighted the measures taken by Tobacco Control Cell
to control the epidemic of tobacco use.