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Govt urged to prioritise health by increasing tax on cigarettes

April 03, 2024
This representational image shows a man smoking. — AFP/File
This representational image shows a man smoking. — AFP/File

Islamabad:Health activists, in a press release by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), emphasised the critical need for the government to prioritise health and economic agendas by increasing taxes on cigarettes. This call comes in tandem with the imminent commencement of negotiations on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Agreement and the crucial Budget Planning for 2024-25.

With a focus on long-term public health and economic stability, Malik Imran Ahmad, Country Head of CTFK, emphasised the interconnected relationship between reduced tobacco consumption, improved health outcomes, and enhanced revenue streams. He affirmed that prioritising tobacco taxation in the forthcoming budget would not only safeguard public health but also propel the nation towards achieving its fiscal targets and commitments.

To propel health and economy forward, Ahmad advocated for a 26.6% Federal Excise Duty (FED) increase on cigarettes, a move projected to recuperate 19.8% of healthcare expenditures associated with smoking-related diseases. He emphasised that this measure aligns with the impending IMF Agreement negotiations, contributing substantially to revenue generation crucial for budgetary allocations.

In his statement, Ahmad further highlighted that the government would benefit from increased revenue from tobacco products, potentially averting the need for an increase in petrol prices and subsequent rises in commodity prices. This strategic approach would provide much-needed relief to the public amidst economic challenges.

Dr. Khalil Ahmad Dogar, Programme Manager at SPARC, stressed the pivotal role of increased cigarette taxes in deterring tobacco use among youth and low-income individuals. Dr. Dogar reiterated that higher prices serve as effective deterrents, particularly for price-sensitive demographics such as youth and the low-income population.