Billions of rupees FED being evaded through undeclared, illegal increase in cigarette prices: Experts

ISLAMABAD - Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) issued a press release to raise concerns about the potential damage unleashed by unofficial increase in cigarettes prices by tobacco industry. 
According to the tobacco control experts, the recently announced unofficial raise of 20 Rupees by tobacco industry will cause Rs80 billion loss to national exchequer.
Malik Imran, Country Head for Campaign for Tobacco Free-Kids (CTFK), appreciated that for the first time since 2019, the government has increased FED rates on tobacco products. This will provide Rs27.4 billion in additional revenue while resulting in 200,000 fewer smokers; 1.2% reduction in smoking prevalence among adults; 1.23% reduction in smoking intensity among adults; and 71,900 lives saved. 
He revealed that the tobacco industry has increased the prices of their cigarette brands, but have not declared it and even printed it on the cigarette packs to evade taxes, resulting in billions of rupees of loss to the national exchequer, while the industry is illegally making huge profits.
Dr. Ziauddin Islam - Country Lead - Vital Strategies; Former Technical Head/Director, Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of NHSR&C; Former Technical focal Person of Govt. of Pakistan for WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) stated that the number of smokers in Pakistan has reached up to 29 million. 
Tobacco consumption is causing serious health implications on Pakistanis and yearly, 170,000 people die due to tobacco consumption.  Pakistan became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on February 27, 2005. But tobacco industry’s deceptive tactics have not made it possible for Pakistan to improve our tobacco control efforts whereas all our regional neighbours have moved forward in this regard.
Khalil Ahmed Dogar, Program Manager, (SPARC), pointed that that every year tobacco industry tries to manipulate policymakers in order to fill its coffers at expense of lives of Pakistanis. 
He said that the country is in deep financial crisis and we cannot afford to lose precious funds on tobacco consumption. The government needs to adopt adequate measures for tobacco control and these include imposing health levy and strict implementation of tobacco control laws. 
Tobacco control activists are working tirelessly to aid the government in standing firmly against the deceptive campaigns by the tobacco industry.

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