Renowned health experts have urged the government to raise the Federal Excise Duty (FED) on cigarettes and tobacco products in the 2019 budget as a means of raising desperately needed revenue.
This was stated during a Pre-Budget webinar hosted by the Social Protection Resource Center (SPRC) on ‘the need to increase taxation on cigarettes,’ which was attended by policymakers, government officials (from the Ministries of Health and Finance, as well as the Taxation and Law Divisions), public health experts, social workers, and academics.
Dr. Zafar Mirza, a former Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health, stressed the proven detrimental consequences of tobacco usage and the efficacy of greater tobacco taxes in present and future political situations.
He stated that it would be sensible to consider hiking cigarette taxes during Pakistan’s meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“Because we are in an economic crisis,” Dr. Mirza reasoned, “this will help overcome the political difficulties this sector confronts.”
Dr. Safdar A. Sohail, Sociologist and Dean of the National Institute of Public Policy (NIPP), emphasised higher taxation as an evidence-based method that was implemented by many regional nations and resulted in beneficial outcomes, particularly in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). He supported his point of view with regional examples from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, China, the Philippines, and The Gambia.
Dr. Sohail echoed Dr. Mirza’s remarks and asked the specialists to work together to provide proposals for a programme to boost cigarette taxes.
To read our blog on “Tobacco Industry’s Ad On Illicit Cigarette Trade a ‘Smokescreen’,” click here.