Increase in tax on cigarettes a step in right direction

ISLAMABAD - If Pakistan has to stay in step with the developed world, it has to increase cigarettes prices which are still lower compared to developed countries. The increase in FED on cigarettes through an SRO is a step in the right direction, stated experts, adding that the government should not yield to pressure of tobacco manufacturers. Dr Muhammad Zaman, the founding chairman of the Department of Sociology at Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU), told reporters that in Europe, cigarettes are deliberately made too expensive to afford. Dr Zaman conducted research in Germany and has been a permanent figure in research groups of European universities. He said he had closely monitored markets in Germany and France to find that not only cigarettes are taxed heavily, they are also not allowed at public spaces. “No one can smoke in buses and there is a separate cabin for smoking in trains. Some people get tobacco and make a cigar. But it is considered bad in society,” he said. He said tax on cigarettes is obviously a positive point in largely disliked IMF protocol. Dr Hassan Shehzad, from International Islamic University Islamabad, said attempts are being made on social media to pressure the government into taking back its decision to tax cigarettes, which is deplorable. “Cigarette makers are not allowed to advertise their products because they are harmful. But now they are using the advertisement budget on generating a debate on social media to gain tax relaxations from the government. It needs to be in mind that these relaxations come at the cost of public health,” he said. Dr Shehzad said that taxes on cigarettes have been increased all through the world as it is the only choice. Agreeing with him, Dr Zaman said that there is a need to do research on this subject in Pakistani perspective. He said it is unfortunate that quality research work has not been done on this crucial subject in the country. If the harms of cigarettes are researched properly, the decision-makers will surely go for more taxes on it, he concluded.

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