SPARC suggests more tax on cigarette

In Business
March 28, 2024



ISLAMABAD:

The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) warmly welcomed the appointment of the new finance minister and urged him to consider tobacco taxation as a potential avenue for boosting the economy.

Aligning with public health initiatives, the SPARC emphasised the importance of increasing taxes on cigarettes to reduce tobacco consumption, thus promoting better health outcomes for the population, according to a press release.

The SPARC shared the concerns of health activists who advocate for higher taxes on cigarettes rather than utilities. This strategic approach not only aligns with public health goals but also addresses the broader economic implications associated with tobacco use.

Malik Imran Ahmad, country head for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), appealed to the newly appointed Finance Minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, to recognise the significant challenge posed by tobacco consumption in Pakistan. With approximately 31.9 million adults consuming tobacco, accounting for 19.7% of the adult population, the impact on public health and the economy cannot be overstated.

Ahmad emphasised the burden placed on healthcare resources to treat smoking-induced non-communicable diseases, underscoring the urgent need for measures such as increased tobacco taxation to mitigate the economic strain and protect public health.

Dr Khalil Ahmad, Programme Manager at SPARC, highlighted the affordability of cigarettes as a driving factor behind youth initiation into smoking, further emphasising the economic costs associated with smoking-related illnesses and deaths.

With such a significant portion of Pakistan’s GDP being expended on addressing tobacco-related issues, effective tobacco control measures are imperative to alleviate the economic burden and safeguard public health, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2024.

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