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Wednesday June 12, 2024

Taxing tobacco lauded

By Our Correspondent
February 18, 2023

Islamabad : The recent surge in taxes on tobacco products is a welcome step but more is needed to be done. Anti-smoking activists have applauded the increase in the tax.

Smoking-related diseases cost Pakistan over Rs600 billion need to be verified as new forms of cigarettes have crammed the market.

There is a need to create awareness about these high-end tobacco products as parents do not know what their children are getting addicted to, adding that these non-cigarette products also have to be taxed heavily, said Dr. Hassan Shehzad, from International Islamic University. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco kills around 166,000 people in Pakistan every year. This number is alarmingly high, and it calls for immediate action to curb the tobacco epidemic in the country.

Increasing taxes on cigarettes is a proven method to reduce tobacco consumption. This measure makes cigarettes more expensive, which can discourage people, especially youth, from smoking. Additionally, the increased tax revenue can be used to fund anti-smoking campaigns, provide support for smoking cessation programs, and other public health initiatives.

The government’s initiative to increase taxes by over 150% is one of the most significant tobacco tax hikes in Pakistan’s history. This measure will raise the prices of cigarettes, making them less affordable for young people who are often attracted to smoking due to the low cost.

Health activists, however, call for more. They say that more taxes should be imposed on tobacco products as it would help generate revenue and meet IMF criterion.

NGOs have been advocating for an increase in tobacco taxes for a long time. They believe that higher taxes will not only reduce tobacco consumption but also generate revenue for the government. The additional tax revenue can be used to fund anti-smoking campaigns and support smoking cessation programs. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that tobacco taxes should be at least 75% of the retail price. While the increase in taxes on cigarettes is a welcome move, Pakistan still has a long way to go to reach this goal.

Some may argue that the increase in taxes will lead to a rise in smuggling and the sale of illicit cigarettes. However, this argument does not hold up in the face of evidence. Several studies have shown that higher tobacco taxes lead to a reduction in smoking, and there is no conclusive evidence that increased taxes lead to a rise in smuggling.