ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) in a research report has said taxes on tobacco should be increased as per the suggestion made by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to reduce smoking in Pakistan.

The PIDE report released recently called upon the government to follow the suggestion of WHO and increase the excise duties on tobacco up to 70 per cent of the price of product.

PIDE said smoking was one of the leading causes of preventable deaths globally and among various policy interventions tobacco taxation is the most effective to reduce cigarette consumption.

The report, “Switch, reduce, or quit: how do smokers respond to tobacco tax increases In Pakistan?” stated that higher cigarette taxes deter smoking initiation, reduce cigarette consumption and even lead smokers to quit.

“Hence, the price increase strategy through taxation effectively reduces the overall prevalence of smoking,” the report stated and referred to the earlier PIDE report regarding the economic cost of tobacco induced diseases in Pakistan.

The report turned down the argument by the tobacco industry that the illicit trade would benefit if the taxes were increased in the country and said most smokers start at the young age and programmes aimed at discouraging tobacco initiation should be redesigned to effectively target the youth, especially those in their teens and early twenties.

Among various awareness campaigns and other tobacco control measures, making tobacco products expensive through taxation can be a useful tool, it added.It said 50pc increase in price would lead to the same amount of reduction in cigarette demand. Affordability is found to be the main facilitator for smoking, especially at a younger age.

The report also added that as per international comparison the price of high end brand pack of 20 cigarettes should be Rs716 or more but the prices of cigarettes in Pakistan are low giving plenty of space for significant increase in tobacco taxes.

“A more worrying observation is that the initiation of tobacco use among adolescents is significantly high,” it said, adding around 60pcof smokers start using tobacco during their adolescent years and among smokers the majority - around 65pc - use cheaper brands, showing that affordability encouraged smoking.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2021

Opinion

Climate & youth

Climate & youth

Disillusionment and anxiety are on the rise among youth as they confront the diminishing prospects of a better tomorrow.
Our exclusivity syndrome
Updated 17 Oct 2021

Our exclusivity syndrome

Pakistan needs at least a minimum level of inclusivity that can keep alive democratic values.
Shafqat Kakakhel
Updated 16 Oct 2021

Shafqat Kakakhel

COP26 has to achieve consensus on several issues.

Editorial

Carnage in Kandahar
Updated 17 Oct 2021

Carnage in Kandahar

Pakistan’s anti-extremism policy is in many ways half-baked and inconsistent.
17 Oct 2021

Sanctity of contracts

PAKISTAN is facing yet another international dispute before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment...
17 Oct 2021

New sports policy

THIS week, the Pakistan Football Federation Normalisation Committee chief Haroon Malik was in Zurich to hold ...
Diminishing freedom
Updated 16 Oct 2021

Diminishing freedom

DESPITE the serious reservations of digital rights activists and tech companies, the federal government has...
16 Oct 2021

Dirty politics

IN her outburst against Prime Minister Imran Khan this week, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz may not have taken names but...
16 Oct 2021

Decreasing emissions

THE announcement by SAPM on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam that carbon emissions in the country came down by 9pc...