Pakistan Chest Society (PCS), the representative body of chest physicians, demanded increased taxation on cigarettes in the forthcoming federal budget.
Quoting the recent report of Pakistan Institute Development Economics, PCS President Professor Nisar Ahmed Rao said the total costs attributable to all smoking-related diseases and deaths in Pakistan were alarmingly high at Rs 615.07 billion in 2019. This amount was five times higher than the overall tax revenue the government generated from the tobacco industry (Rs120 billion in 2019).
Professor Javaid Khan of Aga Khan University said that tobacco kills over 166,000 people every year in the country. "Taxation is known to be the most cost-effective control measure available to governments throughout the world," he added. Professor Khan said that the average excise tax share in the country is 45.4 per cent of the retail price, which is much lower than that recommended by the World Health Organisation - at least 70 per cent of the retail price. Last year, the federal cabinet approved Rs 10 per cigarette pack Health Levy (Sin Tax), but for one reason or the other,this additional tax was never implemented, he continued.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11h, 2021.