ISLAMABAD: Anti-tobacco activists have urged the government to implement the recommendations of the parliamentary committee that proposed increasing federal excise duty (FED) and implementing a surcharge on tobacco products.

The activists were attending an online session on the impact of smoking on young people’s health.

Senators Mohammad Ali Khan Saif and Kulsoom Parveen had suggested increasing the FED and imposing a surcharge on tobacco products while giving their recommendations on the Finance Bill 2020.

In those recommendations, they had asked the government to increase FED on top tier tobacco products up to Rs30, which captures 10pc of the market share with less competition.

The lower tier consists of 90pc of the market share.

The recommendations also suggest an increase in the prices of lower tier cigarettes, which currently stands at Rs80.

It was suggested to increase the prices of lower tier cigarettes up to Rs100 by adding a Rs10 duty per pack of cigarettes.

Quoting the 2018 study Economic Burden of Smoking Related Illnesses in Pakistan, the country representative of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Malik Imran, said the current economic cost of tobacco consumption was Rs192 billion.

“Approximately, 166,000 deaths occur in a year due to tobacco use. According to research, poor families spend at least 3.9pc of their household income on purchasing cigarettes. Tobacco consumption not only perpetuates poverty, it increases the health burden and associated cost for both the government and its people,” he said.

Human Development Foundation CEO Azhar Saleem praised the steps taken by the government on tobacco control, saying that in the current pre-budget time period, the government did not succumb to pressure from the tobacco industry and retained the two-tier structure for tobacco taxation.

Mr Saleem said that by increasing FED on tobacco products, more revenue will be generated by the Federal Board of Revenue and will help in reducing the health cost of tobacco consumption.

The increased FED and surcharge on tobacco products will open new financial avenues to sustain tobacco control programmes in Pakistan, said.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2020