Rise in FED to control tobacco usage: Health experts

ISLAMABAD   -   Showing concerns over the increasing economic burden in terms of public health and economic costs due to rising cigarette consumption, health experts have called for implementation of the World Bank recommendation for increase in Federal Excise Duty (FED) on cigarettes.

“Increasing FED on cigarettes will check the steady rise in consumption and ensure a healthier future for Pakistan’s youth,” remarked Director Centre for Research and Dialogue (CRD), Amjad Qamar, over the increased use tobacco consumption in the country.

He said that Pakistan was one of the largest tobacco-consuming countries and low prices of cigarettes were the major contributor in the respect.

Country Director, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), Malik Imran Ahmed, referred to the World Bank report titled ‘Pakistan Development Update,’ and said that a significant revenue gain of 0.4 percent of GDP (Rs505.26 billion) could be achieved by applying the current rate on premium cigarettes (Rs16.50 per cigarette) to standard cigarettes as well. The report underscores the potential for economic and health benefits through this measure.

He added that aligning cigarette taxation with the WB recommendation is a crucial step towards safeguarding the health and well-being of Pakistan’s children.

Higher excise duty on cigarettes not only deters smoking but also generates much-needed revenue for essential public services, he said.  Taxation policies of the successive governments have failed to generate revenue as well as to curb the alarmingly high smoking rate.

According to the FBR yearbooks, Rs 567 billion revenue loss has incurred to the national kitty only from the tobacco sector during the last seven years.  Earlier, the IMF has also recommended Pakistan to overhaul tax collection system and impose tax on non-essential items including cigarettes to boost revenue and improve public health.

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