Pakistan needs more on WHO guidelines to control smoking: GTI

ISLAMABAD   -   Pakistan has made a significant progress in raising tobacco taxes but the country still needs to take more measures to fully implement the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations aimed at both saving lives and curbing tobacco use, reveals the Global Tobacco Index.

The WHO has earlier recommended that the tobacco excise duties should be at least 70 percent of the retail price.

Following the increases during 2022-23, the current FED share in retail prices stands at 48 percent and 68 percent respectively for low and high tiers.

The Global Tobacco Index said that Pakistan has been a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) since 2005. Progress has been achieved in enforcing tobacco control measures, however, there is still more needed to achieve the desired results.

The Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2023 has ranked Pakistan at 32nd position and noted that tobacco taxes, as a percentage of the retail price, stood at 61 percent whereas the global standard is at 70 percent.

Country Head of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), Malik Imran Ahmed said, “We urge the government to align its policies with WHO recommendations and save lives.”

Social Policy Development Centre (SPDC) in its latest policy paper, “Recovering Healthcare Costs and Saving Lives” has also proposed a 37 percent increase in FED in the next fiscal year’s budget.

The SPDC estimates that the country can save 265,000 lives generate additional revenue of Rs37.7 billion and push 757,000 people to quit smoking through increasing the FED by 37 percent.

Pakistan is among the country where smoking has high prevalence.  The data shows that a staggering 31.6 million adults—equivalent to nearly 20% of the adult population—use tobacco products in Pakistan.

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