Pakistan Sees Surge in Smoking Cessation After Tax Hike – Report

Pakistan Sees Surge in Smoking Cessation After Tax Hike – Report

Islamabad, February 14, 2024: A new study by Capital Calling, a prominent Pakistan think tank, reveals a significant drop in cigarette consumption following the government’s implementation of higher taxes on tobacco products.

This policy, aimed at both improving public health and bolstering revenue generation, appears to be yielding positive results despite opposition from the industry.

The study, conducted across major cities like Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, and Peshawar, found that nearly 1 in every 94 smokers have abandoned the habit since prices skyrocketed. This translates to a potential impact on millions of individuals, considering Pakistan’s sizeable smoking population.

The government’s strategy involved raising taxes on cigarettes to boost revenue from Rs 148 billion to Rs 200 billion in the current fiscal year. This translated to a substantial 154% increase in price for Tier-1 cigarettes, achieved by elevating the duty from Rs 130 to Rs 330.

Smokers surveyed by Capital Calling reported a direct correlation between increased prices and their decision to quit. Many prioritized spending on essential needs like food and education instead of cigarettes, highlighting the financial burden imposed by the higher taxes.

“The survey results demonstrate a clear, positive relationship between higher taxes and lower cigarette consumption,” stated the press release issued by Capital Calling. “This is encouraging news for public health, considering the cigarette industry’s staggering impact on the nation.”

The study estimates that tobacco-related diseases, including cancer, chronic respiratory illnesses, and cardiovascular diseases, cost Pakistan a staggering Rs 620 billion annually. Additionally, it claims that these illnesses are responsible for over 337,500 deaths each year.

The evidence suggests that cigarette sales are likely to decline further in the coming months if the government maintains the current tax structure. This potential scenario has ignited debate, with the cigarette industry naturally vocalizing its opposition.

Dr. Aman Khan, director of Islamabad’s “Waseela Foundation,” voiced his support for the findings. “The government’s decision to increase taxes is a commendable strategy that simultaneously addresses public health concerns and revenue deficits,” he remarked.

With its findings, Capital Calling’s study has reignited conversations about tobacco control measures in Pakistan. While the long-term impact remains to be seen, the initial results showcase the potential of high taxes to curb smoking and its associated health and economic burdens. This success story could serve as a valuable example for other countries seeking to implement similar policies to combat the harmful effects of tobacco use.