Over the past three years, Pakistan has seen a surge in anti-smoking campaigns. However, the source of funding for these lobbies remains shrouded in mystery. Many believe that these international groups are working to weaken Pakistan's economy by imposing taxes on cigarettes and beverages.
These campaigners use bogus facts that are not backed by any credible source to push their agenda. The government relies heavily on revenue generated by the tobacco industry, and further taxation will only lead to a decrease in revenue, said Osama Siddiqui, a macroeconomic analyst.
Shockingly, some of the most prominent anti-tobacco organizations themselves are smokers. This hypocrisy reveals their true motives and raises questions about their credibility.
Recently, he said that an ATO claimed that additional taxes would increase government revenue by 60 billion. However, the current excise hike on cigarettes is likely to result in a shortfall in revenue collection by the legitimate tobacco sector.
Pakistan's media often fails to fact-check before reporting, contributing to the spread of misinformation. It is time for the government to engage in dialogue with the business sector to find a solution. The state must not enable the ATO's hooliganism culture, which supports illicit manufacturers, she added.
The anti-tobacco industry's delusions are doing more harm than good for Pakistan. It's time for them to take a reality check and understand the consequences of their actions. The government must protect legitimate businesses and ensure that its policies do not harm the country's economy, he concluded.