ISLAMABAD: Tobacco control activists urge the government to increase FED on tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco products, in Pakistan. Over 22 million (19%) Pakistani adults (18+) currently use some form of tobacco. Almost one third of Pakistani men (32.4%) and 5.7% of women smoke tobacco. They demanded at least 30% increase in the Federal Excise Duty (FED) for each slab of cigarettes to enhance revenue collection and lower the consumption of tobacco, especially among youth.
There are two tax slabs for cigarettes. An amount of Rs 33/- FED is imposed on cigarettes costing less than Rs. 90/- per packet and Rs. 90/- on cigarettes with a price of Rs. 90/- and above.
Syed Anis Bilal, Team Lead at Human Development Foundation (HDF) said that an increase in the exchange rate of dollar had an effect on prices of basic goods but prices of tobacco products remained the same. He said civil society organizations wanted a better future for Pakistan and were seriously concerned why heavy taxes were not imposed on the tobacco industry.
He also said it would reduce the health bill of the government besides contributing to a clean and healthy environment. The government needs to keep in mind the growing inflation rate while finalizing taxes on tobacco products for the fiscal year 2021-22.
Sanaullah Ghumman, the secretary general of Pakistan National Heart Association, said the government needs to adopt a futuristic approach and implement tobacco control policies. Pakistan has one of the cheapest rates of cigarettes in the region and hence one of the highest numbers of tobacco smokers.
*As per the recommendation of World Health Organisation, Pakistan must increase taxes on tobacco to make the products less affordable and hence lower its overall consumption in the country. he said.
Mr. Malik Imran, Representative of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) stated that according to WHO estimates, 44 million children aged 13 to 15 are smoking and many more pre-teens are likely to join the number*.
According to a study tobacco has a health burden of Rs. 193 billion in Pakistan due to the health harms and loss of productivity it causes. It is time the government of Pakistan recognizes tobacco as an epidemic and takes strict policy action to control its spread. One of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use in Pakistan is to raise the price of tobacco products through excise tax increases.
Tobacco control activists stated that the government needs to keep in mind the growing inflation rate while finalizing the taxes on tobacco products for fiscal year 2021-2022. Government also needs to impose higher taxes on tobacco products to save our youth from the menace of tobacco consumption.