Special Presentative of Prime Minister on Interfaith Harmony and Middle East Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi on Wednesday stressed the need to launch an awareness campaign to educate youth about consequences of extremism as well as use of drugs and tobacco. “An awareness campaign should be launched across all platforms of media to educate youth about consequences of extremism as well as use of tobacco and drugs,” he said, while addressing a seminar titled “Tobacco industry calls it revenue, we call it blood money’, here in Islamabad. He said that 68 percent population of the country belongs to youth, therefore it is the responsibility of clerics, parents and elders to discourage tobacco and smoking among adults and youth. He also urged religious clerics to educate public in Friday sermons on consequences of smoking and tobacco. He added that Holy Quran commands to cooperate in good deeds and require to restraint evils in the beginning. Ashrafi said smoking is termed as beginning of all evils in the society and the government should make it costly through taxes to discourage youth. He urged the government to increase tax on all tobacco products in the upcoming budget to keep cigarettes out of the purchasing power of children and adults. He said the government should also initiate measures to ensure implementation of all relevant laws to enhance tax on cigarettes to boost its revenue and reduce the health burden. Speaking on the occasion, Senator Zarqa Taimur said that taxation on tobacco sector should be enhanced keeping in view rising demands of health budget of the country. She said that smoking is a gateway to drugs and narcotics and parents should play very responsible role to monitor their children against this nuisance. Taxation ratio on imported and locally manufactured cigarettes should be increased, she said. The government should devise a comprehensive mechanism to identify parameters of business volume for foreign tobacco companies and strict policy should be implemented to curb smoking in adults and youths, she added. General Secretary Pakistan National Heart Association Sanaullah Ghumman said that smoking is one of the main reasons behind rise in heart diseases in Pakistan and all over world. He said 1,200 new children and adults become victim of this nuisance every day. He said that drugs usage is rising among girls and women also, which is very alarming. He said that Pakistan generates Rs 110 billion revenue from tobacco sector but Pakistan has to disburse almost Rs 650 billion on health issues generated from tobacco consumption. Dr Zia Ahmed, a tobacco control activist, said that Pakistan’s tobacco control policies are being lauded all over the world and the WHO has also hailed the country’s endeavors in this regard.