The Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust (SKMT) acting Chief Executive Officer Dr Aasim Yusuf has proposed the government to impose cancer tax in the upcoming budget to discourage smoking and treat the disease.Speaking at an online awareness session, he said that successive governments had initiated different measures to tax the tobacco products and discourage youth from smoking, but the revenue from tobacco tax was not earmarked for improvement of the health sector. The number of smokers in Pakistan has reached over 29 million while the expenditure on tobacco-related diseases has surpassed Rs615 billion annually. Dr Yusuf said that around 40 percent of adults seen at the facilities of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust have cancers linked with tobacco use, adding that the government can build new hospitals with the collection of cancer tax on tobacco products. He said that it is highly concerning that the tobacco epidemic is shifting to countries with fewer resources like Pakistan. The tobacco industry is targeting vulnerable population with sophisticated marketing strategies, he said, adding that their tactics interfere with tobacco cessation and burden health systems which is preventable. Speaking at the session, oncologists and public health experts said that tobacco is the largest preventable risk factor for four major non-communicable diseases that are cancer, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and diabetes. They said the Ministry of Law and Justice has already allowed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to start collecting health levy on tobacco products to help boost the revenue and discourage smoking in the youth. The federal cabinet approved a federal health levy in 2019 but it is yet to be implemented.Country Head Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) Malik Imran called for enforcing the health levy across Pakistan ahead of the upcoming budget as the law ministry had already cleared it. He said the government should increase tax on tobacco products separately, besides implementing the federal health levy as these measures will help reduce the tobacco-related diseases burden on public and private hospitals, and boost the revenue.