Monday July 22, 2024

KP govt decision to increase tobacco taxation backed

By Bureau report
June 06, 2024
An ashtray filled with cigarette butts is seen on an outdoor smoking stand at a bus stop. — AFP/File
An ashtray filled with cigarette butts is seen on an outdoor smoking stand at a bus stop. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: Blue Veins and the Provincial Alliance for Sustainable Tobacco Control have commended the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for the landmark decision to increase the local tobacco tax (cess) by 400 percent.

A press release said the substantial increase could generate over Rs2 billion ($7.2 million) annually, which might be dedicated to enhancing health facilities across the province. This move marks the first increase in the provincial tobacco cess since 1996.

The KP government has also introduced a ground-breaking provincial excise duty on tobacco through the enactment of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Excise Duty (Unmanufactured) Tobacco Act 2024.

For the first time, this tax will be levied on tobacco companies at the rate of Rs50 per kilogram.An important aspect of the new legislation is the mandatory registration of Green Leaf Threshing (GLT) units, which will significantly contribute to the establishment of a comprehensive track-and-trace system in KP.

Qamar Naseem, programme manager at Blue Veins, stated that effective tobacco control was crucial for safeguarding public health and reducing the economic burden of tobacco-related diseases.

Imran Takkar, a civil society activist, said the KP government’s decision was a major victory for public health and tobacco control.“It demonstrates a firm commitment to protecting citizens from the harms of tobacco, in line with international standards,” he added.

The civil society organizations praised Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur, minister of Excise and Taxation, director general of Excise, and other officials for the decision on tobacco tax.It also demanded that the KP government reenact the Tobacco Vendor Act, which will regulate the sale of tobacco products and restrict their access to minors.