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May 14, 2019

‘Almost 60% smokers to quit smoking if cigarettes prices increased’

Islamabad

May 14, 2019

Islamabad : While increase in taxes after IMF deal is haunting the general public, there is one commodity, cigarettes, where the increase of tax is a demand by health experts and activists.

A latest report says that almost 60 per cent of the smokers would quit smoking if the prices of cigarettes were increased, while less than 10 per cent will opt for low price cigarette, study said on Monday.

A report launched by FFO, a think tank working on Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and tobacco control in its report rejected the tobacco industry arguments about shifting of smokers towards cheaper brands if prices increased.

Study said that 61 per cent of the smokers would quit or reduce smoking if price is increased. Only 8 per cent of the smokers would opt for cheaper cigarettes if price is increased.

The report “The burden of illicit trade of cigarettes in Islamabad” the policy of reducing cigarette prices was introduced by FBR in the last government regime. Globally, tobacco industry lobbies for favorable tax structure arguing that an increase in taxes will harm the economy and increase illicit trade.

The study found that there are only 15.95 per cent of the cigarettes per day consumed in Islamabad, classified as illicit. And the burden of illicit trade in cigarettes in Islamabad is almost half than quoted by tobacco industry.

Project Manager FFO Muhammad Faisal, in his presentation explained that 15.95 per cent of the cigarettes per day consumed in Islamabad, classified as illicit.

Out of 15.95 per cent, only 10.74 per cent of cigarettes were illicit as smuggled and 5.2 per cent cigarettes were illicit as low priced or duty not paid (DNP).

He further informed that smoking is inversely related to academic qualification and price, the respondents appear to be less educated (65.7 per cent were matriculate or below), 25.5 per cent were willing to quit smoking if the price of cigarettes be doubled.

While 36.2 per cent were of the opinion to reduce smoking if price of cigarettes be doubled. 1,131smokers of the study were smoking total 14,463 cigarettes per day.

Out of these smokers, 179 were found of smoking 2,307 sticks of illicit brands and 952 smokers were using 12,156 sticks of legal brands.

Sana Ullah Ghuman, General Secretary, Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) believes that Pakistan is one of the fifteen countries worldwide with the heavy burden of tobacco related ill health issues.

“We have been working with government and civil society to increase the taxes on tobacco products to condemn the smoking habits in youngsters, he said.

There are laws to control tobacco sales for minors to promote the healthy lifestyles, he added. He further talked about that companies promoting e-cigarettes are less harmful as compared to traditional smoking is equally harmful and destructive for human body and society.

Anti-tobacco activists in pre-budget proposals recommend solutions to the federal government on short term (Fiscal Years 2019/20).

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