ISLAMABAD: Pakistan stands out in the region for relatively low cigarette prices due to the country’s lenient tax regulations for both premium and value-for-money (VFM) segments when compared to India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.

“At the core of Pakistan’s tobacco market dynamics is its tax policy, which is notably more lenient than those of its regional neighbours,” said Dr Aman Khan, a director at the Waseela Foundation, which is a non-political, non-governmental and non-profit organisation committed to serving humanity.

According to a press release, Dr Khan said governments in India and Sri Lanka had implemented stringent tax regimes on tobacco products as a public health measure.

He said those policies were designed to curb smoking rates by elevating the cost of cigarettes, thus making them less affordable.

When compared to Bangladesh, where a high percentage of cigarette prices include taxes, Pakistan’s taxation on cigarettes is relatively low. This difference in tax structure is a principal factor behind the lower prices of cigarettes in Pakistan, Dr Khan added.

“A pack of premium cigarettes in Pakistan might cost around $1.5, while the same could be $3 in India or Bangladesh and even higher in Sri Lanka,” he said, adding that Pakistan’s cigarette pricing, particularly in the premium and VFM segments, was a direct result of its comparatively lax tax policies on tobacco products.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2023

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