Additional 30% FED on Tobacco Products Can Generate Rs. 26 Billion

The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) held a discussion on saving the Pakistani youth from tobacco hazards through sustainable tobacco control policies in Islamabad today.

Anti-Tobacco Activists suggested that the new government should increase the FED on tobacco products by 30 percent to generate an additional Rs. 26 billion, which can be used for human development.

Program Manager SPARC, Khalil Ahmed Dogar, commented that the affordability and availability of tobacco products have boosted the number of smokers to 29 million. Furthermore, on a daily basis, 1,200 children initiate smoking, and 170,000 people die every year because of tobacco consumption.

He added that the use of tobacco causes an economic burden of Rs. 615 billion, which is 1.6 percent of Pakistan’s GDP, contrary to the revenue generated from the tobacco industry (Rs. 120 billion in 2019), which is approximately 20 percent of smoking’s total cost. This situation calls for the immediate implementation of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation of a 30 percent increased tax on tobacco products. The increased Tobacco Tax will generate revenue of approximately Rs. 26 billion.

Country Lead of Tobacco Control Pakistan for Vital Strategies, Dr. Ziauddin Islam, said that Pakistan’s youth comprises 64 percent of the population, which is an easy target for the tobacco industry. The industry considers adolescents as replacement smokers. Cigarettes in Pakistan are available at some of the cheapest rates in the region, which allows the youth easy access to them. The increased price of tobacco will make them unaffordable for the youth, who are more price sensitive.

CEO Chromatic Trust, Shariq Mahmood Khan, remarked that taxes are the most cost-effective tobacco control measure and requested the new government to increase tobacco taxes on tobacco products to reduce their consumption and generate additional income.

General Secretary Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH), Ch. Sanaullah Ghuman, said that there is a high prevalence of smoking among the youth. The new government should strictly comply with the laws that ban the advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of all tobacco products and increases the size of the mandatory warning labels on cigarettes to protect the youth.

For decades, tobacco companies have used strategies like youth-oriented marketing to lure young people into a lifetime of addiction. “We must not allow our youth to face this fate,” Ghuman warned.

Faiz Paracha is a seasoned broadcast journalist with over 15 years’ experience in reporting and e...