Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) and its partner organizations Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) and Chromatic Trust have expressed concerns on tobacco industry’s ‘disinformation campaign’ to mislead the policymakers and public. During an event organized in Murree, the tobacco control activists urged the government not to fall for the deceptive tactics and increase the taxation on tobacco products to safeguard Pakistani youth from its harmful effects. Malik Imran Ahmad, Country Head Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), told media persons that as soon as there’s any talk of increasing taxation according to the recommendation of World Health Organization, the tobacco industry starts a campaign to divert attention towards illicit trade. The industry overstates the percentage of illicit trade and blatantly hides its practices of underreporting, he said. “This year renowned celebrities were misled in producing ‘one-sided, half-true’ video messages which mislead the masses. Common folks watching these videos assumed that the national exchequer is facing losses only due to smuggled products and not because of big tobacco industry,” he added. Khalil Ahmed, Project Manager SPARC, said that tobacco industry manipulated policymakers in order to fill its coffers at expense of lives of approximately 170,000 people who die due to diseases caused and aggravated by usage of tobacco products. He further stated that tobacco industry repeatedly urged the government to decrease federal excise duty through a differentiated excise structure but without any increase of revenue commitments. Shariq Mehmood Khan, Project Director Chromatic Trust, said the industry also asked to reinstate three-tier system for local companies. “Due to extensive lobbying, there was no increase in taxation on tobacco products for fiscal year 2021-22. Heavy taxation on tobacco products is needed to not only reduce the tobacco consumption and its accessibility but also to keep the minors away from tobacco,” he added. Sanaullah Ghuman, General Secretary, Pakistan National Heart Association, expressed sadness on government’s decision to disband the Tobacco Control Cell and stated that this move will further strengthen the tobacco industry. He stated that countering tobacco industry’s disinformation campaign is need of the hour. Hike in prices is required to save lives, along with strict implementation of laws regarding graphic health warnings, promotion and advertising bans, and smoke-free places, he added.