Health experts for high taxes on cigarettes to control smoking

ISLAMABAD   -   In a bid to combat the alarming ratio of cigarette consumption in Pakistan, experts and health advocates have suggested uniform taxes on all cigarettes along with imposition of high taxes on tobacco products as proposed by the IMF to the government to introduce a single tier tax structure.

According to the IMF’s Technical Assistance Report titled ‘Pakistan Tax Policy Diagnostic and Reform Options’ released in February this year, the consumption of cigarettes in Pakistan has witnessed a notable decline of 20-25 percent following substantial hike in prices of tobacco products.

Health activists have also voiced their support for the IMF’s stance, emphasizing the urgent need for a revamp of tobacco taxation policies in Pakistan.

They called upon the government to transition to a Single Tier Tobacco Taxation System and eliminate the existing dual-tier system for both local and imported cigarettes.

The IMF’s advocacy for increased taxation on tobacco products not only seeks to curb cigarette consumption but also aims to bolster government revenue.

By implementing the uniform excise rates and bridging the gap between local and foreign cigarette manufacturers, Pakistan stands to streamline its taxation system and mitigate the healthcare costs associated with tobacco-related illnesses.

The seventh-largest tobacco-consuming country globally, Pakistan signed the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004 to address and regulate tobacco use.

The WHO underscores the importance of robust tax measures in reducing tobacco consumption, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, by elevating tobacco prices. Pakistan has suffered a staggering loss of 567 billion rupees in revenue over the past seven years due to the influence of MNCs lobbying against tax increases.

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