Activists welcome hike in tax on cigarette as good move for public health

ISLAMABAD: The tobacco control activists, health professionals, policymakers and nongovernmental organizations, especially the Society for the Protection of the Rights of Child (SPARC) have termed the government decision to increase the Federal Excise Duty (FED) on cigarettes a great success towards the goal of curbing the rising trend of smoking among the younger generation.

They said it is the result of joint efforts that led to doubling the tax on locally produced cigarettes.

Malik Imran, the country head of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), expressed his gratitude to the government for increasing the FED. According to Imran, the recent issuance of a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) on February 14, 2023, has revised the taxes on locally produced cigarettes, with FED doubled on cigarettes that have an initial price on the packaging exceeding 9000 per 1000 cigarettes, to 16500/- per 1000 cigarettes. This move is expected to generate billions of rupees in revenue for the national exchequer, while also discouraging smoking among children.

Khalil Dogar, Program Manager at SPARC, also commended the government for its decision to double the FED on cigarettes. Dogar highlighted the positive impact this policy will have on the economy, as well as its potential to reduce smoking among children. According to Dogar, increasing the cost of cigarettes will make it harder for young people to afford them, ultimately reducing the number of children who become addicted to tobacco.

The increase in FED is a significant step towards controlling tobacco use in Pakistan, a country where tobacco consumption is widespread and a major public health concern. According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, conducted in 2014, approximately 24.3 million adults in Pakistan use tobacco in some form, and around 163,000 people die each year from tobacco-related diseases.

Tobacco control activists hope that the government will continue to take bold steps to reduce tobacco consumption in Pakistan. This includes implementing stronger tobacco control policies, such as increasing taxes on tobacco products, banning tobacco advertising and promotion, and creating smoke-free public spaces.

In conclusion, the government’s decision to double the FED on cigarettes is a welcome move for public health and the national economy. It is a testament to the tireless efforts of tobacco control activists, health professionals, and policymakers, who have been advocating for stronger tobacco control policies in Pakistan. The hope is that this is just the beginning, and that the government will continue to take bold steps to reduce tobacco use in the country.

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