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Anti-tobacco groups laud govt decision to implement health tax

Staff Report

Islamabad (May 31, 2019) On the eve of the World No Tobacco Day, May 31, anti-tobacco groups have lauded the government’s decision to implement health tax Rs 10 per pack to discourage tobacco consumption in Pakistan.

In a joint statement Country Representative Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), Malik Imran Ahmad, Executive Director Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), Sajad Ahmad and Secretary General Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) Sana Ullah Ghumman lauded Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to implement Health Tax on cigarettes, as a result of which cigarette packs will be Rs 10 more expensive.

Malik Imran Ahmed said, “Tobacco industry often lobbies and tries to meddle with government’s decisions by presenting an obsolete argument that higher taxes on tobacco may lead to the rise on illicit trade, despite how numerous studies contradict this assertion.”

Cigarette packs will be Rs 10 more expensive

He also stated that according to World Health Organisation’s manual on tobacco tax administration, tobacco taxes are proven to be the most effective way to reduce tobacco consumption. ‘Like many other developing countries Pakistan still has one of the cheapest rates of tobacco products in the world, but the government today showed reasonable commitment to change this reality by implementing the health tax’, he added.

The group also appreciated the efforts of the newly appointed Prime Minister’s focal person on Tobacco Control, Babar bin Atta, as the decision came in only two weeks into his appointment to the role.

Earlier this year in the special report of Auditor General of Pakistan, it was found that cigarette manufacturers were involved in tax evasion of Rs. 33 billion. Consequently, it was recommended to the government to withdraw the third slab of federal excise duty (FED) for the cigarette industry, which would help enhance revenue collection from tobacco sales. The group also expressed how timely implementation of this policy may be helpful in tobacco control and also for revenue collection.

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