Gov’t Pushed For Sin Tax On Tobacco Products
February 15, 2019
Islamabad : Imposition of excise in the form of sin tax can help check the growing use of tobacco products in the country, said Malik Imran Ahmad of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Pakistan office.
He was addressing a media workshop organised by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) on 'Tobacco consumption trends and civil society’s demands from the government' at a local hotel.
Malik Imran Ahmad highlighted trends of the use of tobacco products, including cigarettes, chewed tobacco, pan, ‘beeri’, betel leaves, betel nuts, snuff tobacco, snooze tobacco, and e-cigarettes.
He said the use of tobacco was among the five main leading causes for the outbreak and prevalence of non-communicable diseases.
"Pakistan yearly spends around Rs140 billion on the tobacco-related diseases, which is a huge liability on the health sector of the country. The preventive measures including the imposition of excise in the form of sin tax can help check the spread of tobacco use in the country," he said.
Malik Imran said as per the claims of the health minister, the 'sin tax or health levy' was planned to be imposed on the tobacco products but the latest financial bill showed little increase in tax on tobacco products.
"This attitude reflects that health of our young generations at high risk is not prioritised by the government of Pakistan compared to generate the minimum revenues from the tobacco industry," he said.
SPARC Executive Director Sajjad Ahmad Cheema said considering the fact that increase in dollar price had had an effect of the increase in the price of basic goods for a living but the prices of tobacco products were the same making them accessible to minors.
He said while wanting a better future generation of Pakistan, civil society organisations were seriously concerned about why heavy taxes were not imposed on tobacco in the country.
"Heavy taxations will reduce the tobacco consumption and decrease their access to minors. This will not only reduce the health bill of the government but also contribute to a clean and healthy environment for future generations. We urge the government to increase tobacco taxations to save our children," he said.
The participants demanded the government implement crucial measures to further strengthen the tax system, including regularly increase the excise tax to account for inflation and income growth and reduce cigarette affordability, harmonise all taxes across tobacco products, and fully implement the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Tobacco Trade, particularly the measures for supply chain control, such as licence, tracking and tracing and record keeping, and align the Protocol with the legislation on prosecutions and sanctions for tax evasion.
The Workshop was attended by senior journalists Rafat Nazir and Javed Siddiq, Masood Baig, representatives of the civil society, electronic and print media, and students.