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Credible data vital to control smoking in Pakistan

02:58 PM | 1 Jun, 2023
Credible data vital to control smoking in Pakistan

LAHORE - Pakistan does not have authentic data on smoking which is the main cause of the failure of all government policies to curb this menace. This is the top problem the government needs to address and make a vow on this World No Tobacco Day, believes Capital Calling, a network of academic researchers and professionals. 

Tax policy on tobacco consumption is yet to achieve its goals, contrasting with successful efforts seen in other parts of the world through high taxation. It is because of the myth prevailing among policymakers that increasing taxes would hinder the revenue of the tobacco industry.

Reports of groups of health activists run counter to this myth stating that in 2019, when the government tightened tax policies, the industry's tax contribution increased to 120 billion Pakistani rupees (Rs) compared to Rs 92 billion in 2016. Additionally, the tobacco industry's share of total tax collection rose from 2.15 percent to 3 percent in FY16.

Despite this empirical evidence proving that increasing tax on cigarettes can reduce smoking, taxation policy remains weak in its battle against tobacco. 

Capital Calling believes that this reluctance to effectively utilize tax policy to curb tobacco consumption may be attributed to the absence of a reliable estimate of the true economic costs of smoking.

Multinational tobacco companies have been claiming that tax increases would adversely impact their businesses and potentially force them to shut down production facilities.

Consequently, the rise in the Federal Excise Duty (FED) has fueled the growth of the illicit market, which now holds a 40 to 42 percent market share. They also claim that this has compelled international companies to shut down 40 percent of their production facilities due to significantly decreased sales.

Khalil Dogar, an anti-tobacco activist, says that these techniques are merely employed to pressure the government against increasing taxes. Presently, every sector, including tobacco, faces challenges due to the economic downturn, with the textile sector experiencing a 50 percent dip and companies like Honda and Toyota being forced to close factories. 

Similarly, a subsidiary of a multinational cigarette maker in Pakistan has said that some of its production units are being shut down. Dr Hassan Shehzad, from IIUI, says that the priority for the government should not be the protection of industry as a non-essential commodity but public health. Increasing tobacco costs not only generates revenue but also cuts spending on tobacco-caused diseases. 

International tobacco companies have a history of pressuring governments worldwide, and Pakistan is no exception. Capital Calling recommends that the government stand firm and maintain its existing policy, which discourages tobacco consumption through increased taxation. 

The total costs are attributable to smoking-related diseases and deaths in Pakistan for 2019 amount to Rs 615.07 billion ($3.85 billion), with indirect costs (morbidity and mortality) constituting 70 percent of the total. Cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory ailments account for the majority (71 percent) of smoking-induced costs. The direct cost attributable to smoking represents 8.3 percent of total health expenditures, a considerable burden, states Capital Calling, citing different civil society reports.

It is imperative for the government to prioritize public health over corporate pressure and stay committed to its existing policy aimed at discouraging tobacco use through higher taxation. The significant revenue collected and the substantial positive impact on citizens' health far outweigh any financial losses incurred. Pakistan must seize this opportunity to implement robust tax policies that align with global tobacco control frameworks and safeguard the well-being of its population.

Daily Pakistan Global Web Desk


Pakistani rupee rate against US Dollar, Euro, Pound, Riyal - Check 14 April forex rates

Pakistani currency remains unchanged against US dollar and other currencies in open market on April 14, 2024.

US Dollar rate in Pakistan

On Sunday, the US dollar was being quoted at 277.5 for buying and 280.5 for selling.

Euro was quoted at 299.95 for buying and 302.9 for selling while British Pound stands at 349.5 for buying, and 353 for selling.

UAE Dirham AED was at 75.45 and Saudi Riyal's new rates was at 73.30. 

Today’s currency exchange rates in Pakistan - 14 April 2024

Source: Forex Association of Pakistan. (last update 08:00 AM)
Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar USD 277.5 280.5
Euro EUR 299.95 302.9
UK Pound Sterling GBP 349.5 353
U.A.E Dirham AED 75.45
Saudi Riyal SAR 73.3 74.05
Australian Dollar AUD 182.7 184.5
Bahrain Dinar BHD 739.38 747.38
Canadian Dollar CAD 204 206.2
China Yuan CNY 38.45 38.85
Danish Krone DKK 40.45 40.85
Hong Kong Dollar HKD 35.57 35.92
Indian Rupee INR 3.33 3.44
Japanese Yen JPY 1.86
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 903.91 912.91
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 58.92 59.52
New Zealand Dollar NZD 167.63 169.63
Norwegians Krone NOK 25.38 25.68
Omani Riyal OMR 722.1 730.1
Qatari Riyal QAR 76.35 77.05
Singapore Dollar SGD 206 208
Swedish Korona SEK 25.72 26.02
Swiss Franc CHF 307.11 309.61
Thai Bhat THB 7.61 7.76


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