ISLAMABAD: On the occasion of World Children’s Day, the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) highlighted the pressing need to address the important issue of tobacco consumption among children in Pakistan.
In its press release, SPARC stressed the immediate and comprehensive government intervention needed to safeguard the health and well-being of the youth in society.
Despite commendable progress in tobacco control efforts, the prevalence of tobacco use among children remains an alarming concern.
The government of Pakistan must take decisive measures to end this scourge in order to fulfill its obligations both nationally and globally, SPARC said.
Country Head of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), Malik Imran Ahmed, recommended the implementation of a substantial increase in tobacco taxes to dissuade tobacco consumption and generate resources for important public health initiatives.
This proposed move aligns with the well-established recommendations of global health bodies such as the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Economic Burden of Tobacco-related Illnesses
Underlining the economic burden of tobacco-related illnesses, Imran stressed the introduction of a health levy on tobacco products.
He said that the funds generated from the levy should be directed toward healthcare initiatives and educational programs aimed at preventing tobacco use among children.
The program Manager at SPARC, Dr. Khalil Ahmed Dogar, urged for the swift introduction of legislation to prohibit the sale and distribution of novel tobacco and nicotine products.
He said that these products, often designed with flavors and packaging that appeal to youth, pose a serious threat to the health of the children and must be removed from the market.
Dr. Dogar also addressed the role of social media as a big channel for the promotion and accessibility of these harmful products, especially among the youth, calling for the prohibition of the sale and marketing of tobacco products on these platforms.