Tax increase lowers tobacco sales across country

ISLAMABAD        -        Cigarette tax increases and subsequent price increases have reduced cigarette pack sales across Pakistan, according to merchants and wholesalers, who deem it a significant step towards reducing tobacco consumption and enhancing public health. Retail vendors and wholesale dealers in urban areas said the move showed that low prices were also a major role in tobacco sales and welcomed the government’s commitment to protecting its citizens from the dangers of smoking.

“Though it is a business loss for me but this continues to campaign for tighter tobacco control regulations to further reduce smoking rates in Pakistan,” said Shafiq Ahmed, a seller in Islamabad. On 14 February 2023, the government issued an SRO to increase FED.

The SRO claimed that taxes on locally made cigarettes have been updated, and the FED has doubled the price of cigarettes (16500/- per 1000 cigarettes if the initial price on the package exceeds 9000 per 1000 cigarettes). He went on to say that the government of Pakistan may now inflate the national budget by billions of rupees as a result of this endeavour.

A wholesale merchant in Karachi agreed with him, stating that they had seen a significant increase in tobacco demand and sales. Raising the price of cigarettes, according to social activists, is a triedand-true method of reducing tobacco usage. Cigarettes are more expensive as a result of this technique, which may discourage people from smoking, particularly young people.

Furthermore, the additional tax revenue may be used to fund smoking cessation programmes and anti-smoking advertisements. The decision to hike cigarette pricing in Pakistan is an essential step towards promoting public health.

The government’s initiative to raise taxes by about 150% is one of the largest in Pakistani history. This measure will raise cigarette prices, making smoking less appealing to young people who are often lured to it because of its low cost. Various civil society organizations have appreciated the government’s decision to increase taxes on cigarettes, terming it the most effective way to reduce tobacco consumption in the country. According to their representatives, the approval of SRO by the government in this regard aimed to increase excise tax on cigarettes is a highly commendable move and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has taken a historic step to protect public health.

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