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‘Pakistan fails to thwart influence of tobacco companies’

May 02, 2024
The image shows a tobacco company worker busy with cigarettes. — AFP File
The image shows a tobacco company worker busy with cigarettes. — AFP File

Islamabad : Pakistan has remained unsuccessful in minimising the influence of the multinational tobacco manufacturing companies which eventually resulted in over 160 deaths annually, revealed a global study.

The Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC), an international watchdog on tobacco control, in its latest finding of 2023 has included Pakistan in an index where the tobacco industry heavily influences the governments.

The international watchdog in its findings termed the performance of Pakistan in adopting measures to prevent the industry’s influence, ensuring transparency, and avoiding the conflict of interest with the multinational tobacco companies as unsatisfactory. Mentioning the names of Pakistan Tobacco Company and British American Tobacco, the GGTC said that in 2021, 163,672 deaths in Pakistan occurred primarily by these two top producers of tobacco. In Pakistan, tobacco companies are not prohibited from promoting themselves through so-called socially responsible activities and from promoting their products through sponsorships of events, activities, or individuals, it further stated.

According to GGTC findings, tobacco taxes in Pakistan as a percentage of retail price was 61% while the global standard was 70%.

Meanwhile, the International Monitory Fund (IMF) Technical Assistance Report titled ‘Pakistan Tax Policy Diagnostic and Reform Options’ released in February, on the consumption of cigarettes in Pakistan, has advised Pakistan to overhaul its tax system by increasing taxes on non-essential items like cigarettes and applying a uniform tax on cigarettes regardless of their national or multinational brand.