Financial burden of tobacco-related illnesses far exceeds the revenue generated by industry

In Pakistan, the utilization of tobacco continues as an essential factor contributing to avoidable demises. Tobacco stands accountable for the demise of over 160,000 individuals annually, encompassing those impacted by secondary smoke. Besides its profound health complications, tobacco utilization imposes a substantial economic burden on the nation, amplifying healthcare expenditures, diminishing workforce efficacy, and other linked costs. Here unfolds a glimpse into the adverse consequences of tobacco employment on individuals’ existence.

The strain on healthcare facilities due to treating tobacco-related illnesses like lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory disorders is significant. The costs associated with managing these conditions are substantial and on the rise. Tobacco use can lead to illness, absence, and premature death, resulting in a decline in productivity that affects both the individual tobacco user and the broader economy. Families, especially those from disadvantaged economic backgrounds, can suffer financial hardship due to tobacco-related illnesses, adding to their existing struggles with limited resources. The production and disposal of tobacco products contribute to environmental degradation, including deforestation, pollution from cigarette manufacturing, and litter from discarded cigarette butts, posing significant environmental concerns.

Tobacco use also worsens the economic differences, as individuals with limited financial means spend a higher proportion of their income on tobacco, increasing financial instability and contributing to inflationary pressures within this demographic. Numerous studies iteratively show that heightening the price of tobacco commodities ranks among the most effective techniques to weaken utilization. Increased prices function as a warning for adolescents to initiate smoking, incentivize extant smokers to limit their tobacco consumption or cease entirely, and discouragepast smokers from deteriorating. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), elevating cigarette prices by 10% can end in a 4% reduction in cigarette consumption in rich nations and approximately an 8% reduction in low- and middle-income nations.

According to a survey conducted by Deloitte United States, nations that have passed substantial tobacco tax increments have witnessed remarkable decrease in smoking prevalence. For instance, Australia boasts one of the proudest cigarette prices globally, partly attributable to substantial taxes. This policy has conduced to a substantial downturn in smoking prevalence over recent decades. Analogously, in the United Kingdom, sequential tax hikes on tobacco goods have constituted an essential of public health strategy, accompanying in a steady decrease in smoking incidence.

Moreover, as per an another recent survey undertaken by the Centre for Research and Dialogue, smoking prevalence in Pakistan has markedly decreased by 18 percent. This reduction has been credited to the surge in cigarette prices. The survey revealed a visible downturn in cigarette consumption, with 15 percent of respondents attesting to scaling back their consumption in reaction to the escalated prices. According to approximations, there has been a notable decrease in the volume of cigarettes consumed annually, approximating around 11 billion.

Despite some encouraging outcomes, Pakistan determinedly boasts some of the most economical cigarettes globally. This underlines the significance of instituting supplementary tax hikes to fight the blight of smoking. The downturn can be attributed to the administration’s resolution in 2023 to substantially intensify FED rates for both economical and premium brands. Also, despite the price hikes, cigarettes in Pakistan remain as more budget-friendly compared to India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. In Pakistan, a packet of premium cigarettes is priced at approximately $1.50, markedly less than prices in neighboring nations exceeding $3.00. Beyond the immediate economic year, the government must embrace a proactive stance towards tobacco taxation. Such measures not only guarantee a consistent revenue inflow but also function as potent deterrents against tobacco consumption, thereby preserving lives and mitigating healthcare disbursements in the long haul.

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