Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) organised an online session with journalists on tobacco taxation on Friday to brief them on a potential source of revenue to bear the cost to fight the covid-19 pandemic.
SPARC Executive Director Sajjad Ahmed Cheema said that civil society activists drew attention of Prime Minister Imran Khan to an approved cabinet's decision to implement a surcharge of Rs 10 on tobacco products and Re 1 on sugary drinks that remained pending to date.
Its full implementation could earn the country Rs 50 billion in revenue, which then could be used to purchase PPEs for health workers and testing kits required for the pandemic.
Malik Imran Ahmed, campaign for Tobacco free Kids, Pakistan office spokesperson said billions of revenue could be immediately collected by the government by revising taxes on just two products i.e. cigarettes and carbonated drinks and the generated revenue could be straight off invested in public's health for fighting controlling corona pandemic in the country.
He added both cigarettes and carbonated drinks had poor nutritious value and the sales trends showed growing habit of smoking among youngsters and high consumption of soft drinks. Not only higher prices discourage youth from initiating cigarette smoking but encourage current smokers to quit, who are nowadays at a higher risk to coronavirus due to their decreased immunity.
Malik further said implementing tax price policies ultimately added to the national health objectives, which had already been provided in Article 6 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), "Price and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco".
Efficient imposition of taxes on these can decrease peoples' access as their consumption is injurious to health and is increasing health burden of the country.-PR