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The tobacco industry is causing an economic burden of Rs192 billion per year, whereas smoking causes 166,000 deaths annually in Pakistan and increases the financial and health burdens of the users.
These views were expressed in an online press briefing session by Human Development Foundation (HDF) chief executive officer Azhar Saleem Friday. Azhar said the pre-budget time was crucial for policymakers and tobacco control activists for increasing the taxes on tobacco products.
In a recent media report, through a raid by tax officers on one of the abandoned factories of tobacco giant, found out that 60 million sticks of cigarettes were present at the location, all of which were illegally manufactured by the tobacco giant. Meanwhile, tobacco industry claimed that illicit trade of cigarette is causing Rs44 billion in losses to national exchequer in a recent reports. Through a sponsored research study, the industry claims the illicit trade to be at 44 percent.
In 2017-18, through a new tax structure, the tobacco industry caused a loss of Rs42bn revenues which is almost 50 percent of the revenues collected the year before. Malik Imran, representative of the campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, stated that last year, in response to this claim of industry, two research studies were jointly conducted by the HDF, Pakistan National Heart Association and Fikr-e-Fardan Organization.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020