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Experts urge higher tax on cigarettes 

05:19 PM | 19 Mar, 2024
Experts urge higher tax on cigarettes 

ISLAMABAD—The call to increase tobacco taxes is gaining momentum, with Dr. Muhammad Zaman endorsing the policy. He argues that imposing taxes on smoking saves lives, as advocated by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). 

Dr Zaman, the founding chairman of the Department of Sociology at Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) and head of the Zaman Research Center, underlined the need to impose more taxes to save lives, stating that "Taxing tobacco saves lives by reducing consumption and channelling resources towards essential public health initiatives."

The SDPI has previously pointed out deficiencies in the tax collection framework and the need for increasing taxes on tobacco products, particularly cigarettes. The institute published a detailed report based on government data that reveals the country lost Rs 567 in revenue during the last seven years. The report, titled "Tobacco Taxation in Pakistan: Unraveling the revenue loss of Rs567b to the exchequer," highlights the staggering financial toll the tobacco industry inflicts on the national exchequer.

Dr. Zaman argues that cigarettes are non-essential and dangerous commodities. He believes that the affordability of cigarettes is the major contributor to high consumption and, ultimately, diseases and fatalities in the country. Therefore, he endorses increasing the prices of cigarettes as an internationally proven strategy to curtail consumption. Dr. Zaman also emphasizes aligning tobacco taxation with the guidelines outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and developing a long-term taxation policy grounded in global best practices and Article 6 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

To substantiate his argument of making cigarettes unaffordable to curb consumption, Dr. Zaman refers to a recent research report by Capital Calling, which shows that an increase in the prices of cigarettes has resulted in a decrease in consumption. The Islamabad-based think tank Capital Calling reported that "one in every ninety-four smokers was forced to quit smoking after a significant raise in taxes." This has led to smokers saving money by quitting smoking to fulfil other needs like food, education, their children's health, and paying the utilities.

More than 31 million Pakistani adults (15+), or about 19.7 per cent of the total adults, use some tobacco, which is one of the highest in the world. Malik Imran, Country Head of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, highlights the staggering economic toll of tobacco consumption, citing an annual loss of Rs 615 billion. He refers to a World Bank report and says there is ample room to increase tax on tobacco products. Imran believes that "The government can generate an additional Rs 17 billion to Rs 65 billion from the industry by increasing the tax to 26 per cent."

Daily Pakistan Global Web Desk

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Rupee exchange rate to US Dollar, Euro, Pound, Dirham, and Riyal - 18 April 2024

Pakistani currency continues to gain against US Dollar and other currencies on April 18, 2024. US dollar was being quoted at 277.2 for buying and 280.3 for selling.

Euro comes down to 293 for buying and 296 for selling while British Pound stands at 342.25 for buying, and 345.65 for selling.

UAE Dirham AED was at 75.25 and Saudi Riyal's new rates was at 73.30. 

Today’s currency exchange rates in Pakistan - 18 April 2024

Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar USD 277.2 280.3
Euro EUR 293 296
UK Pound Sterling GBP 342.25  345.65 
U.A.E Dirham AED 75.25  75.95
Saudi Riyal SAR 73.3 74.05
Australian Dollar AUD 181 182.8
Bahrain Dinar BHD 739.63 747.63
Canadian Dollar CAD 201 203
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 3.32 3.43
Japanese Yen JPY 1.86 1.94
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 902.26 912.91
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 58.24 59.52
New Zealand Dollar NZD 164.75 169.63
Norwegians Krone NOK 25.42 25.68
Omani Riyal OMR 722.1 730.1
Qatari Riyal QAR 76.37 77.05
Singapore Dollar SGD 206 208
Swedish Korona SEK 25.72 26.02
Swiss Franc CHF 307.11 309.61
Thai Bhat THB 7.56 7.76

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