ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Commerce and Textile on Wednesday directed the Pakistan Tobacco Board, Pakistan Tobacco Company and tobacco growers to reach a consensus on the definition of tobacco.

According to the previous definition, tobacco was divided into many parts such as soft stem, hard stem, part of leaf and some other parts. It enabled the tobacco companies to avoid cess as it was imposable on the leaf while its other parts such as stem had to be considered as a waste.

However the stem is used as a filling, along with the tobacco, in the cigarettes and other waste materials are also used in different kind of tobacco products and by-products such as Naswar.

Pakistan Tobacco Board, in a bill, has suggested changing the definition of tobacco and declare the whole leaf as tobacco because it is used in the tobacco products. Because of new definition cess will be imposed on whole leaf and nothing will be considered as waste.

The disagreement on the definition emerged from the fact that this definition will be used at a later stage when the government brings tobacco use and consumption under regulation and imposes cess on Tobacco and hence requires to be seen carefully as to what products or by-products will be taxed.

The committee, headed by Senator Shibli Faraz, will look into the proposals from the stakeholders on whether the definition in the amendment bill is to be maintained or otherwise.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2017