Health levy on cigarettes will help boost healthcare system

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Staff Reporter

While hailing the federal government’s decision to levy health tax on cigarettes, CEO of Human Development Foundation (HDF) Azhar Saleem has expressed the hope that after approval of introducing Health Levy by the cabinet, all the relevant departments will be asked to implement it.
He said this while talking to media persons here Saturday.
Mr Azhar Saleem was of the view that HDF had been advocating higher taxes on tobacco in order to boost economy through increased revenue generation and reduce the health burdens of tobacco related diseases, for both the government and citizens.
“HDF welcomes and appreciates recent amendments in tobacco taxation structure introduced by the government in its budget for FY 2019-20,” he said.
The speculated increase in revenues due to increase in taxes with removal of third tier of tax is Rs. 33billion for 2019-20. The government has committed to reinvesting the revenues in healthcare system for the wellbeing of citizens.
However, he said, somehow, due to the hidden interests and misleading influence of tobacco Industry, the government is dragging its feet to implement it. The government is already committed to divert the revenues generated through Health Levy towards reducing the health burden caused by tobacco use, keeping it at a disposal of Health Ministry.
Being a signatory to FCTC, Pakistan is obligated to adhere to the guidelines for effective tobacco control. The proposed health levy, along with increased taxes, is an effective measure for curbing the menace of tobacco control, especially among youth.