ISLAMABAD: Pakistan-based think tank Center for Research and Dialogue (CRD) survey disclosed that 18 percent of people quit smoking following a significant increase in cigarette prices. In a recent survey conducted by the CRD, it was revealed that the survey results have demonstrated that tax hikes promise a win-win for both the public health and the government revenue,” said Maryam Gul Tahir, Director CRD.

The findings underscore the effectiveness of high tobacco taxation as a vital measure in combating tobacco consumption, as is advocated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

However, the decisions in the recent past signal a corrective shift in policy aimed at prioritizing public health over industry interests.

In this respect, the government increased Federal Excise Duty (FED) rates after years of stagnation. The policy shift not only safeguards public health but also serves as a fiscal measure to alleviate the economic burden associated with smoking-related healthcare costs.

Last year, in February, the Finance (Supplementary) Act of 2023 saw FED rates spike by 146 percent for economy brands and 154 percent for premium brands, marking a significant departure from previous policies.

This strategic decision has already demonstrated tangible outcomes, with cigarette consumption showing a marked decline.

The survey findings not only highlight the decline in overall consumption but also reveal a shift in behavior among smokers.

Around 15 percent of respondents reported reducing their cigarette intake due to the increased prices. This collective response has contributed to an estimated reduction of over 11 billion cigarette sticks in consumption.

According to details, the total consumption of cigarettes in Pakistan ranges from 72 to 80 billion sticks annually, inclusive of various sources such as officially produced, smuggled, and untaxed products.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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