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June 26, 2020

Tobacco control advocates urge govt to increase FED, implement surcharge on tobacco products

National

June 26, 2020

Islamabad: Tobacco control advocates on Thursday appreciated the government for not succumbing to the pressure from tobacco industry and retaining the two tier structure for tobacco taxation in the current pre-budget time period.

In an online media session, CEO Human Development Foundation (HDF) Azhar Saleem appreciated the steps taken by government for tobacco control. He appreciated that the government stayed true to its commitment of keeping public health a priority.

Senator Muhammad Ali Khan Saif and Senator Kulsoom Parveen submitted their recommendations to the Senate urging the government to increase FED and implement a surcharge on tobacco products.

They proposed the recommendations on Finance Bill 2020. In these recommendations, they have asked the government to increase FED on the top tier up to Rs30, which captures 10 per cent of the market share with less competition. The lower tier comprises of 90 per cent of the market share.

The recommendations also suggest an increase in the prices of lower tier cigarettes which currently stands at Rs80. It was suggested to increase the prices of lower tier cigarettes up to Rs100 by adding a Rs10 duty/pack of cigarettes.

Quoting the study “Economic Burden of Smoking Related Illnesses in Pakistan” conducted in 2018, Malik Imran, country representative of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), stated that the current economic cost of tobacco consumption is s192 billion. Approximately, 166,000 deaths occur in a year due to tobacco use. According to a research, poor families spend at least 3.9 per cent of their household income on cigarette purchasing. Tobacco consumption not only perpetuates poverty, it increases the health burden and associated cost for both the government and its people.

Azhar Saleem stated that by increasing FED on tobacco products, more revenues will be generated by FBR and help in reducing the health cost of tobacco consumption. The increased FED and surcharge on tobacco products will open new financial avenues to sustain tobacco control programs in Pakistan.