High tax on cigarettes results in lower consumption

ISLAMABAD   -   Con­sumption of cigarettes in Pakistan has come down as the government has taken a bold decision to increase taxes to ad­dress challenges of public health and revenue gen­eration. A study by the Capital Calling, a think tank, has revealed that one in every 94 smokers has quit smoking after prices of cigarettes went up. Endorsing the think tank’s findings, Dr Aman Khan, director of Islam­abad based “Waseela Foundation”, said, “The government’s decision to increase taxes emerged as a strategy to address both public health concerns and revenue deficits.” The government finally agreed to increase taxes follow­ing persistent lobbying by numerous anti-tobacco and health activists. In a groundbreaking move, the FBR elevated duty on tier-1 cigarettes from 130 rupees to 330 rupees, re­sulting in a significant net increase of 154 percent in cigarette prices. The deci­sion was aimed at increas­ing the revenue to Rs200 billion from Rs148 billion in the current fiscal year. According to details, Capi­tal Calling conducted the survey in major cities in­cluding Islamabad, Rawal­pindi, Lahore and Pesha­war. Smokers told the surveyers that purchasing cigarettes had become financially burdensome, leading them to priori­tize spending on essential needs like food and the education of their chil­dren instead of smoking. The survey found a posi­tive relationship between higher taxes on cigaretees and its lower consump­tion. Needless to say that cigarette industry was causing a staggering loss of approximately Rs620 billion annually in terms of diseases including can­cer, chronic respiratory diseases, and cardiovas­cular disease, besides 337,500 deaths each year. 

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