Government calls for tobacco tax hike to close budget gap – Journal

ISLAMABAD: The Society for the Protection of Children’s Rights (Sparc) has called on the new government to generate revenue by increasing tobacco taxes.

He recommended increasing the Federal Excise Duty (FED) on tobacco products by 30% to generate additional revenue that can be used for the welfare of people, as the budget is a crucial challenge for the government. .

Sparc program manager Khalil Ahmed Dogar said tobacco taxes were the most cost-effective tobacco control measure.

“Tobacco use results in an annual economic burden of 615 billion rupees, or 1.6% of Pakistan’s GDP, resulting in high health costs and loss of productivity,” he said.

He pointed out that the health and economic costs of tobacco use were more than five times the tax revenue, even though the tobacco industry was a major taxpayer in absolute terms, the tax contribution of the tobacco industry represented a small fraction of what tobacco use costs government and society. “Since tobacco taxes were of no interest to the previous government, this is an opportunity for the current government. generate revenue by raising tobacco taxes and stem the deficit,” he said.

The former Technical Officer of the Tobacco Control Cell (TCC) in the Ministry of Health, Dr Ziauddin Islam, said the tobacco industry is deceiving the government over illicit trade.

“According to tobacco industry data in January 2021, illegal cigarettes cost the economy 40 billion rupees, and in February 2021 they quoted 77 billion rupees without any justification, while according to an independent report, the market for illicit cigarettes is only 10-15%,” he said.

He added that tobacco use had direct and indirect effects on children’s health. “Every day, 1,200 children start smoking. Increasing tobacco taxes will lower this number. Increasing tobacco taxes is the most appropriate measure to reduce tobacco consumption and associated health risks, especially among low-income populations,” he said.

Chromatic Trust CEO Shariq Mahmood Khan said the danger of tobacco can be controlled by raising taxes and raising awareness. Recently, tobacco and related industries have increasingly attacked children and adolescents, engaging in advertising tactics such as sponsorships and influencer marketing to directly target them, which threatens their health.

He called on the new government to raise awareness and help the health directorate implement tobacco control laws and increase tobacco taxes to reduce consumption and generate additional revenue.

Posted in Dawn, April 17, 2022

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