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October 17, 2018

Govt urged to implement sin tax on tobacco products


October 17, 2018

Islamabad : The government needs to implement sin tax on tobacco products, and to raise the retail price of a pack of cigarettes to no less than Rs100 in order to discourage minors from initiating smoking. Although the Federal Excise Duty on tobacco has been increased from 16 to 25 rupees, yet it has not yielded substantive tax collection.

Recommendations to this effect were tabled by the Society for Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) at a press briefing held at the National Press Club here on Tuesday. Proposing the implementation of sin tax, SPARC’s Executive Director Sajjad Cheema defined sin tax as an instrument of excise tax, specifically levied on goods deemed injurious to the society.

The demand was voiced out of concern for the around 1,200 Pakistani children aged between 6-15 years who start smoking every day, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) results of 2015. Pakistan’s population consists of 60% people below the age of 25 where alarming statistics of young people getting addicted and at risk of tobacco consumption calls for strict and effective tax reforms.

Cheema pointed out that no complaint has been registered against violators of the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health Ordinance 2002, which includes measures to prevent smoking in public, ban on access to tobacco products near educational institutes, and restriction on sale of cigarettes to children under 18. “The complaint lodging mechanism shouldn’t be complicated. There’s also a need to initiate a drive to educate people about the reporting procedure and its aftermath. In this regard in 2017, the Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC) directed enforcement of tobacco control laws by nominating focal persons from respective ministries,” he reminded.

Cheema shared that SPARC’s ongoing work with vulnerable children is suggestive of the fact that tobacco products are easily accessible to minors including school going children and dropouts. He urged the government to bring effective tax reforms for preventing easy access of cigarettes to youth.

Ms. Asiya, Manager Programme Development at SPARC reminded the audience of the Pakistan’s obligations as a signatory of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

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