New govt can generate Rs26 billion through 30pc increase in taxes on tobacco products

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View of the cigarettes and tobacco stack. The tobacco plant is part of the genus nicotiana and of the solanaceae (nightshade) family.
Zubair Qureshi

Anti-tobacco activists have suggested the Shehbaz Sharif-led government to increase Federal Excise Duty (FED) on Tobacco Products by 30 percent and generate additional Rs26 billion that can be used for human development.

While addressing a discussion organized by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) on saving youth from tobacco hazards through sustainable tobacco control policies in Pakistan they said the number of smokers had reached up to 29 million, including 1200 children who were turning towards smoking on a daily basis. Besides, 170,000 people die every year due to tobacco consumption.

Khalil Ahmed Dogar, Programme Manager, SPARC, said due to affordability and easy availability, use of tobacco was causing an economic burden of 615 billion which is 1.6pc of Pakistan’s GDP contrary to the revenue generated from the tobacco industry (120 billion in 2019) is approximately just 20 percent of smoking’s total cost. This situation calls for immediate implementation of the World Health Organization’s recommendation of a 30% increased tax on tobacco products. The increase in Tobacco Tax will generate revenue of approximately 26 billion.

Dr Ziauddin Islam, Country lead of tobacco control Pakistan for Vital Strategies, said that Pakistan’s youth consisted of 64pc of the population, which is an easy target for the Tobacco Industry. The industry considers adolescents as replacement smokers.

In Pakistan, cigarettes are available at some of the cheapest rates in the region which grants easy access to youth. The increased price of tobacco will make them unaffordable for youth because youngsters are more price sensitive.

Shariq Mahmood Khan, CEO of Chromatic Trust added that taxes are the most cost-effective tobacco control measure. He requested the new government to increase tobacco taxes on tobacco products to reduce consumption and generate additional income.

Ch Sanaullah Ghuman, General Secretary, Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH), said that there is a high prevalence of smoking among youth. The new government should strictly comply with the laws that ban the advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of all tobacco products; increase the size of warning labels required on cigarettes – a significant step to protect Pakistani youth.

For decades, tobacco companies have used strategies like youth-oriented marketing to lure young people into a lifetime of addiction. We must not allow our youth to face this fate, he added.

 

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