Chest Doctors Call for Higher Taxes on Cigarettes

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Chest Society (PCS), a representative body of Pakistan’s chest physicians, has demanded an increase in the taxation of cigarettes in the upcoming federal budget.

Citing the recent report from Pakistan Institute Development Economics, Professor Nisar Rao of the Ojha Institute of Chest Diseases said the total costs attributable to all smoking-related illnesses and deaths in Pakistan for the year 2019 were alarming at 615, 07 billion rupees ($ 3.85 billion). ). This amount was five times greater than the overall tax revenue the government generated from the tobacco industry (120 billion rupees in 2019).

Professor Javaid Khan of Aga Khan University said tobacco kills more than 166,000 people each year in the country. Taxation is known to be the most cost-effective tobacco control measure available to governments around the world, he added. Prof Khan said the average share of excise tax in the country is 45.4% of the retail price, which is well below the WHO recommendation of at least 70% of the price of detail.

Last year, the federal cabinet approved a health tax of Rs 10 per pack of cigarettes (sin tax), but for some reason this additional tax was never applied, has t -he regrets.

Dr Nousheen Iqbal from JPMC Karachi said that despite evidence that higher tobacco taxation discourages tobacco consumption, Pakistan’s tax policy is one of the weakest areas of action in the country’s fight against tobacco use. the tobacco. One possible reason could be that policymakers, who view the tobacco industry as a major contributor to government coffers, are reluctant to raise taxes for fear of lost revenue, she explained.

She added that the price of cigarettes in Pakistan is the cheapest in the world, thus encouraging our young people to get addicted to this powerful addictive substance. It’s easier to start smoking but difficult to quit, she warned.

Professor Arshad Javaid, a leading respiratory specialist and former vice-chancellor of Khyber Medical University (KMU) Peshawar, said nearly 50% of lung disease is preventable if smoking is avoided. He urged the government to increase taxes on cigarettes in order to reduce the burden of respiratory disease in the country.

The tobacco industry (TI) is trying to keep tobacco products cheap while keeping their profits – to the detriment of public health – he regretted. Tobacco companies are also using the illicit trade as a critical argument against tax increases despite their involvement in the illegal trade, he added.

Dr Shireen Khan of Bolan Quetta Medical School said IT is trying to block the implementation of effective tobacco control legislation, including taxation, by deliberately using fake data. He gave the example of a recent TI media campaign, telling the government that an increase in taxes on cigarettes would encourage smuggling and thereby reduce its revenues.

The most effective way to reduce tobacco consumption is to increase the price of tobacco through tax increases and to ensure that tax increases are reflected in prices, Dr Khan explained. Higher prices discourage young people from starting to smoke and encourage current smokers to quit, he said.

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