Increase in tobacco taxes will help tame Pakistan’s health issues

By: Our Correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Increase in tobacco tax can help in the reduction of health costs causing due to tobacco use. This was told by anti-tobacco activists during an online session.

Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Pakistan, told the media that in Pakistan, tobacco use cost the economy PKR 615 billion due to health care costs for tobacco-related diseases and lost productivity. In comparison, the revenue generated from tobacco taxation is only PKR. 115 billion.

Higher prices discourage youth from initiating cigarette smoking and encourage current smokers to quit. A delay in the implementation has already caused a loss of around 615 Billion that is 1.6% of Pakistan’s GDP, to the national exchequer in terms of low tax collection. To manage tobacco-related health costs govt must raise taxes to control the tobacco menace, he said.

Khalil Ahmed, Program Manager SPARC, told the media that, the number of smokers has reached up to 29 million, alluring non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and chronic lung diseases. These are collectively responsible for almost 68 percent of all deaths in Pakistan.

Also, as per Sustainable Development Goal SDG’s target 2023, Pakistan is obligated to condense one-third of premature fatality from these diseases primarily caused by tobacco.

Mr. Shariq Mahmood Khan, CEO of Chromatic Trust, said that the Government is committed to responsible management of the public finances. The plan for tobacco taxes will lead to a permanent increase in health spending and reduced tobacco consumption.

The session was organized by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) to discuss the impact of tobacco taxes on the economy and consumption.

The taxes provide an approach that enables us to pool and share risks and resources across the country, leveraging the benefits of equal health opportunities for all our citizens.