PANAH organized national dialogue to expose tobacco hazards

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ISLAMABAD, (Parliament Times) :  The National Dialogue was organized at a local hotel under the auspices of Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) to expose the propaganda of “Tobacco Harms and Tobacco Industry Tactic”. The purpose was to expose the misleading campaign of the tobacco industry called ‘Behtr Pakistan’. The campaign is only a propaganda of the industry that exaggerates illicit trade share so that tax increase on tobacco can be avoided. The campaign exploits patriotic sentiments to only forward tobacco industry’s corporate interests. As a result in the last three years no tax increase has been reported on tobacco while process on all essential goods have significantly increased.

Raising taxes on tobacco is the single most effective policy to reduce its consumption. According to WHO 10% increase in tobacco taxes results in 8% reduction in tobacco consumption. The special guest of the National Dialogue was Mna Dr nushen hamid,MNA Uzma Riaz accompanied by Dr. Wajid Ali, Medical and Economic Specialist, Prof. Dr. Col. (R) Shakeel Ahmad Mirza, Consultant Physician and Technical Adviser of Panah, Representative of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) Durr e Nayab, Health Economist Dr. Syed Kifayat Naqvi, Dr. Fahd, Ejaz Akbar, Aftab Ahmed, Dr. Sim including Deputy Director NCDs and Tobacco Control Dr. Samra Mazhar, Vice Chancellor Health Services Academy Dr. Shehzad Ali Khan, Afshan Tehseen Bawjoh, Former Secretary to the Government of Pakistan A large number of journalists, senior members of civil society, CTFK, SPARC, Chromatic and PANAH attended.

In a session to highlight the health burden of tobacco use Medical experts spoke on individual health harms as well as it’s national burden which is about 1.3% of the total GDP. Medical expert Prof. Dr. Col (retd) Shakeel Ahmad Mirzane said that tobacco use is a leading cause for most non-communicable diseases in Pakistan. It leads to cardiovascular diseases and several forma of cancer as well. There are about 69 different forms of carcinogens in tobacco.

A representative of the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) said in her study that 170,000 deaths are caused by tobacco every year. The tobacco industry contributes Rs. 114 billion, in return for which the government faces an economic burden of Rs. 615 billion annually on tobacco related diseases.

Dr. Samra Mazharne, Deputy Director, NCDs and Tobacco Control, said that the government was seriously working on a policy on tobacco.

Senior Journalists Khalid azeem,shamshad mangat ,Aziz alvi,tazeen Akhtr, Anees Ahmad , Amir Waseem ,Javed Iqbal ,Nasir Aslam raja, Zahid faruk Malik,mazhar burlas,Azhar jatoi , and many other senior Journalist s said that people should not be a part of any campaign without knowing the real facts but should give priority to the opinion of experts.

Vice Chancellor Health Services Academy Dr. Shehzad Ali Khan said that the tobacco industry gives wrong statistics about illegal trade. So that is why the tobacco tax could not be increased even once in the last three years.

Chairperson National Commission on the Rights of the Child Afshan Tehseen Bajwa said that due to the attraction of tobacco industry 1200 school going children start smoking daily.

Guest of Honor MNA Dr. nushen Hamid said that the medical and economic experts present in today’s National Dialogue provided us with important information. Which tells us how smoking harms our children.

MNA Uzma Riaz said that 170,000 deaths due to tobacco are a cause for concern every year. We need to think about this. We should all be part of the PANAH awareness campaign so that diseases can be controlled. We will try to legislate on PANAH proposals.

On this occasion, the President of PANAH, Major (retd) Masood-ur-Rehman Kayani said that the purpose of holding today’s dialogue is to pave the way for legislation in the light of expert opinion. Such dialogues should be held in the future as well, so that the public can be made aware of the dangers of tobacco. Prof. Dr. Wajid Ali Khan presented a summary containing the views of experts.

PANAH General Secretary and Director Operations Sana Ullah Ghumman said that tobacco kills millions of people every year and is a major cause of other deadly diseases including cancer. The tobacco industry, as always exaggerates the illicit trade to avoid axes, a practice reposted in various developing countries as well. It is trying to stop the increase in tax, which is very important to discourage. Increasing in tobacco product practice will not only bring billions of rupees in revenue, but will also reduce the burden of tobacco related diseases.