Illicit cigarettes have 23pc share in Pak economy: WHO study

ISLAMABAD   -    Expressing concerns over the human cost due to the increased trend of illicit trade of cigarettes in Pakistan, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that the actual share of illicit cigarette trade in the has said that the country’s actual share in the national economy stands at 23 percent.

“Overall, the illicit trade of cigarettes in Pakistan accounted for 23.1% of the total trade. Locally produced cigarettes without a stamp of the tax authority are considered illicit products and account for 10.4% of the total number of packs,” reveals the WHO study “Incidence of Illicit trade of cigarettes in Pakistan: A case study for Islamabad Capital Territory.”

In terms of the number of packs with counterfeit tax stamps as a percentage of total packs, it was 1.9%, and smuggled cigarettes account for 10.7% of the total consumption, it stated.

There had been several studies on the volume of illicit trade in Pakistan in past but they were conducted before the Track and Trace System was enforced in the country (July 2022). These studies found that illicit trade market in Pakistan ranges from 9 to 17% but they did not estimate the extent of the counterfeit issue, according to the WHO.

“The most effective way to reduce tobacco consumption is to increase the price of tobacco products through higher taxes,” the study said. The world’s top health body emphasised that the prices of tobacco products in Pakistan should be increased by taxing the tobacco industry.

Anti-tobacco activists are pressing the government to raise tobacco taxes to 70% of the retail price, in line with WHO guidelines, to combat the alarming rate of tobacco consumption particularly among the youth.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt