ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Youth has demanded the Prime Minister Imran Khan for increasing the taxes on tobacco products to avoid smoking addiction in the young generation, media reported on Friday.
First of its kind health campaign “Postcards for Tobacco-Free Youth” successfully concluded in Pakistan by “Chromatic” Trust. More than 350 young people participated from across the country, sharing their digital designs for postcards capturing messages for a Tobacco-Free Pakistan.
While the winning postcards will be shared with the policy leaders including the worthy Prime Minister with a message to protect youth from the tobacco epidemic by implementing stricter Tobacco Control policies. Chromatic Trust announced the best 50 in a press conference at a local hotel in ISB.
An alarming study of the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics estimates the total health cost of Tobacco-related diseases around Rs. 615 billion. Youth is far more vulnerable to tobacco addiction, which also results in loss of productivity. A World Health Organization survey shows about 1200 kids between 6 and 15 years of age start smoking in Pakistan on a daily basis. On the other hand, developed countries like New Zealand are on their way to making future generations tobacco-free. Chromatic Team believes Pakistani youth, that makes about 60% of the total population, is just as precious and deserves protection from the menace of tobacco. The participants of the postcard campaign sent a clear message that the inclusion of 438,000 children among tobacco consumers is unacceptable.
Postcards for the Tobacco-Free Youth campaign were launched by Chromatic last month along with an influencer friend, GFX Mentor Imran Ali Dina. The competition allowed youth under 26 years of age to participate in it.
Shariq Mahmood Khan, Project Director Chromatic briefed the media on how a one-month-long campaign allowed them to look into the wonderful and creative minds of our youth. He expressed his grave concerns over the ongoing Tobacco Industry campaign featuring some of the renowned celebrities of the country, misleading the government into overestimating the share of the illicit market, in order to evade legitimate taxes. Shariq said in a country with a majority young population it is unacceptable to have such a prevalence of the Tobacco Industry. This competition represents the true voices of our youth and aims to make them aware of the menace of the Tobacco mafia. The best 50 designs will be given certificates, while the first prize winner will be given a high-end mobile phone. Shariq Khan said it was never too late to accept that we were able to do much less for our kids than needed.
GFX mentor Imran Ali Dina flew in from Karachi to participate in the event. He thanked all participant children and Chromatic Trust to organize the event. On the occasion, he also said that none of us should be ok with the easy accessibility of cigarettes to our youth. We must treasure their spirits, creative minds, and productivity, without letting it be consumed by tobacco. It is imperative to implement WHO-proven policies like higher taxes to make tobacco unaffordable for young people. He further added, tobacco use also increases the chances of having severe symptoms of Covid-19, as both affect the lungs. He said these postcards will be sent to the worthy Prime Minister Imran Khan requesting a visible increase on taxes on Tobacco Products in the upcoming budget to save our youth.
The chief guest and famous artist Jamal Shah said he always believed in the youth of Pakistan. But looking at these postcard designs of our children this confidence has increased manifold. The children of Pakistan know what is good for them and he is now sure that the future of Pakistan is in the right hands.
In the end, Imran Ali Dina gave the prize to the winning participant of the Tobacco-Free Youth Postcard Campaign Badar Ali Baig from Karachi.
Read more: Government urged to increase FED on tobacco by 30%