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June 2, 2020

Surcharge on tobacco products can generate revenue

Islamabad

June 2, 2020

Islamabad:The experts on Monday stressed for surcharge on tobacco products as it can generate more revenues for the government in this time of need.

The fact was highlighted in in an online media session. Speaking on this occasion, CEO of Human Development Foundation (HDF) Azhar Saleem stated that tobacco consumption costs 166,000 lives annually in Pakistan and it has a significant impact on the economic costs of a country, including the health care costs for treating tobacco related diseases and lost productivity of workforce.

He said that the annual economic cost of smoking in Pakistan is as high as Rs 143 billion. “Among the tobacco control measures, increase in taxes on tobacco products has been the most effective measure,” he said.

While explaining the taxation structure on tobacco products in Pakistan, he stated that through changes in the taxation structure, tobacco industry has been evading taxes at the cost of the lives of people. “The government needs to keep in mind the growing inflation rate while finalizing the taxes on tobacco products for fiscal year 2020-2021.” He urged the government to increase FED on tobacco products by Rs20 for each slab of tobacco tax structure.

Executive Director SPA­R­C Sajjad Cheema stated that tobacco industry is targeting the youth through its manipulative tactics. “To save our youth from the menace of tobacco consumption, it is imperative for the government to increase the prices of tobacco products through higher taxes.”

Pulmonologist at Aga Khan University Dr. Javed Khan stated that the disease burden on public health departments and hospitals has increased multiple folds due to COVID 19. He stated that tobacco consumption is the major cause of non-communicable diseases in Pakistan.

“People who smoke cigarettes have already compromised the health of their lungs and thus are at increased risk of contracting COVID19. This will further increase the burden of public health institution in times of this pandemic, he said while urging the government to take into consideration the health of its people and increase the taxes on tobacco products, including a surcharge of Rs10 per pack of cigarette and Re1 per 250ml of sugary drinks to generate more funds for tackling the current pandemic.

Senior Journalist and former Director General, Radio Pakistan Murtaza Solangi said that everyone is aware of the machination of tobacco and sugar industry, as to how they act like a true mafia, the society lacks a response to protect peoples’ lives.

He said both the state and the ‘Saith’ Media are collaborators in disseminating the interests of the mafias and sadly they are working with policy makers and the bureaucracy to serve the mafias instead of protecting the peoples’ lives.

He further stated that the time has come that civil society, social media, new digital media and the conscientious intelligentsia work together like the pieces of a fine orchestra to defeat mafias.”The lives of the millions of our future generations are at a serious risk and the silence over it is tantamount to an unimaginable and unforgivable crime,” he concluded.

General Secretary PANAH Sanaullah Ghumman urged the government to take necessary step in tobacco control efforts and implement the tax surcharge on all forms of tobacco products. “This is a win-win situation for both the economy and health of the country in the form of increased revenues and decreased disease burden,” he said.