KABUL: Minister of Public Health (MoPH) on Sunday said that if the Afghan parliament approved 50 percent increase in tobacco taxes, then annually $136 million would be added to the government exchequer.
Speaking at a seminar in connection with the World No-Tobacco Day, Suraya Dalil said that cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including 40 known caner-causing compounds.
She said that smoking pipe is as dangerous for health as cigarettes, adding, “It can increase the chances of cancer, heart disease, brain damage, high blood pressure, ulcer, and pregnancy related diseases.”
The minister said that according to surveys, in Kabul City, about 32.5 percent men over 15 years old are smokers while 15 percent started smoking before age of 15, and 75 percent started smoking between age16 and 20. At least 36.5 percent people are passive smokers for having smokers in home, while 64 percent are exposed to smoking at public offices.
Last year the Tobacco Control Law has been referred to the parliament for approval by the health ministry. The Lower House of the parliament approved the Tobacco Control Law by adding 50 percent taxes on tobacco production and cigarette importation, but the Upper House approved the law by 10 percent taxes on tobacco cultivation and importation.
The Tobacco Control Law is under revision by joint parliamentary committee to approve the rejected articles. The law foresees the ways for prohibition of tobacco usage, production, cultivation, and illegal trade, encouragement of people and advertisement of tobacco.
The health minister asked the joint parliamentary committee to approve 50 percent taxations on tobacco production and cigarette importation. Dalil said that increase in tobacco taxes would not only prevent people from smoking but would also add 136 million US dollar to the government exchequer. “The revenue generated by the government after approval of the law will help the health ministry to provide stable and permanent health services to citizens,” she added.
Dr Arshad Quddus, representative of the World Health Organization, said that every six seconds, one person die due to smoking. Annually, six million people die in the world due to tobacco usage. Over five million people die as a result of active smoking.
He said that if speed of smoking continues at this pace then 10 million people would die every year by 2020.