Islamabad: On the occasion of World Children’s Day, the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) underscored the pressing need to address the significant issue of tobacco consumption among children in Pakistan. In its press release, SPARC emphasized the immediate and comprehensive government intervention required to safeguard the health and well-being of the youngest members of our society.
Despite commendable progress in tobacco control efforts, the prevalence of tobacco use among children remains an alarming concern. Pakistan’s international and national commitments necessitate robust measures from the government to curb this epidemic.
Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), recommended the implementation of a substantial increase in tobacco taxes to dissuade tobacco consumption and generate resources for vital public health initiatives. This proposed move aligns with the well-established recommendations of global health authorities such as the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Highlighting the economic burden of tobacco-related illnesses, Imran emphasized the introduction of a health levy on tobacco products. The funds generated from this levy should be directed toward healthcare initiatives and educational programs aimed at preventing tobacco use among children.
Dr. Khalil Ahmed Dogar, Program Manager at SPARC, called for the swift introduction of legislation to prohibit the sale and distribution of novel tobacco and nicotine products. These products, often designed with flavors and packaging that appeal to youth, pose a grave threat to the health of our children and must be eradicated from the market. Dr. Dogar also addressed the role of social media as a prominent channel for the promotion and accessibility of these harmful products, particularly among the youth, calling for the prohibition of the sale and marketing of tobacco products on these platforms.
In the realm of public awareness, Dr. Dogar urged the government to enforce an increase in the size of graphical health warnings on tobacco product packaging. Larger and more prominent warnings are crucial in educating both adults and children about the detrimental effects of tobacco consumption.
Both experts jointly underscored, “The impact of tobacco use on the health and well-being of children is a critical issue that demands urgent attention. By implementing these recommendations, we can create a safer and healthier environment for our youth, ensuring they grow up free from the devastating effects of tobacco.