It is rare for Pakistan to be better than the global average on any metric, but that is true for tobacco consumption. About two decades ago, almost four out of 10 people above the age of 15 consumed tobacco in one form or another, but for the world, the number was closer to three out of 10.

As a percentage of the population, the number has fallen, and about 20pc of adult Pakistanis, over 22m people. According to the World Health Organisation, there is at least one smoker in roughly half the households in Pakistan.

Tobacco kills over 163,600 people each year in Pakistan, of which almost 31,000 are due to exposure to secondhand smoke, states, according to Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Taxing cigarettes to quell consumption is laudable, but while there is a deluge of cheaper smuggled alternatives, higher FED and ugly warning labels will not deter smokers.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, April 25th, 2023

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