Significant Tax Hike on Cigarettes Proposed for Budget 2024-25

Significant Tax Hike on Cigarettes Proposed for Budget 2024-25

Islamabad, March 17, 2024 – Advocates at an anti-tobacco seminar have proposed significant increase in taxes on cigarettes for the forthcoming budget 2024-25.

Former Federal Minister for National Health Services, Dr. Nadeem Jan, on Saturday, urged for a substantial 50 percent rise in taxes (excise duty and sales tax) on cigarettes in the budget 2024-25. Dr. Jan emphasized the significance of heightened taxes as a means to reduce cigarette accessibility and effectively address tobacco-related health concerns.

Speaking at an anti-tobacco awareness session organized by the Centre for Research and Dialogue and IBC in the federal capital, Dr. Jan critically assessed the claims of the cigarette industry regarding increased taxes leading to a surge in illicit trade. He labeled these assertions as deceptive tactics aimed at convincing the government to lower taxes on tobacco products.

Dr. Jan highlighted the detrimental effects of such misinformation on state revenues and public health. Despite industry pressure, he outlined the efforts of the health ministry to implement policies aimed at reducing smoking rates in Pakistan.

Advocating for the adoption of a single-tier taxation system to replace the current multi-tier structure, which has been influenced by the cigarette industry under the guise of combating illicit trade, Dr. Jan reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). He called for a unified pricing system to streamline regulation and discourage tobacco use.

Malik Imran, Country Head of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also addressed the session, highlighting the economic burden of tobacco consumption on the country, estimated at an annual loss of Rs615 billion. Imran criticized the undue influence of the tobacco industry on government policy and its baseless warnings against tax increases, which contradict the industry’s record-high revenues and the government’s doubled revenue from the previous financial year.

Both speakers emphasized the necessity of stringent regulation and public awareness to counter the tobacco industry’s deceptive claims and propaganda, including on social media platforms. They advocated for a significant tax increase on tobacco products, aligning with the findings of the World Bank.