Hi Everyone! Hope you are all doing well. Welcome back to another blog. Today we will talk about everything you need to know about Activists Call for Higher Cigarette Excise Duty. Health activists and civil society organizations are urging the government to take decisive action in the forthcoming budget for 2023-24. They advocate for a significant increase in cigarette taxes.
Sanaullah Ghumman, a dedicated advocate from PANAH, has long been championing the cause of discouraging smoking within our society, primarily due to the numerous diseases it can cause. In his statement, he stressed the importance of the government consistently implementing taxes on cigarettes, in accordance with the recommendations put forth by the esteemed World Health Organization (WHO).
According to Malik Imran, the Country Head of the Campaign for tobacco-free kids (CTFK), the government’s choice to raise the Federal Excise Duty (FED) on cigarettes in February 2023 led to a notable increase in FED revenue. Specifically, an additional amount of Rs. 11.3 billion was generated during the fiscal year 2022-23, reflecting a substantial 9.7 percent surge compared to the preceding year.
Specifically, an additional amount of Rs. 4.4 billion was successfully obtained, representing a remarkable growth rate of 11.5 percent compared to the previous year. This surplus of revenue, totaling Rs. 15.7 billion, holds great significance for a nation like Pakistan, which has been grappling with economic challenges. Furthermore, it constitutes approximately 0.201 percent of the country’s GDP, providing a substantial and much-needed boost to the struggling economy.
According to Imran, these easily understandable figures clearly demonstrate the positive impact of increased taxation on the economy. However, Imran pointed out that the tobacco industry intentionally misleads the public by continuously blaming illicit trade as an excuse. Imran further emphasized that the tobacco industry inflates the numbers associated with illicit trade. Strategically, using it as a diversion tactic to shift attention away from the issue of underreporting.
Tobacco is responsible for over 170,000 silent deaths annually in Pakistan, according to Dr. Ziauddin Islam, a retired government employee. This alarming statistic poses a severe threat to public health. The economic toll of this epidemic amounts to a staggering burden of 615 billion Pakistani rupees each year, which constitutes approximately 1.6 percent of the country’s GDP.
To address this grave issue, Dr. Islam has proposed a potential solution—raising the prices of tobacco products. He argues that by implementing higher prices, both the production and consumption of tobacco can be curtailed, leading to a reduction in the associated health costs. This strategy aims to alleviate the heavy economic burden placed on healthcare resources and services in Pakistan.
According to Khalil Ahmed Dogar, a Program Manager at SPARC, it has come to light that the tobacco industry is deliberately targeting the children of Pakistan with the aim of recruiting them as “replacement smokers.” Shockingly, around 1200 Pakistani children between the ages of 6 and 15 are taking up smoking each day.
Adding to the concern, Pakistani smokers allocate around 10 percent of their monthly income towards purchasing cigarettes. Consequently, it becomes clear that raising the prices of tobacco products proves to be the most effective means of preventing children and low-income groups from obtaining these hazardous and potentially fatal items.
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