Civil society demands more tobacco-related taxes in coming budget.

Health activists and civil society organizations have demanded of the government to increase taxes on cigarettes.

Taxation is a key revenue source for any government and taxing non-essential items such as tobacco leads not only to a cut in budget deficit but also in the expenditure on diseases. Sanaullah Ghumman, from PANAH, has long been advocating to discourage smoking in society as it causes diseases. He has stated that the government has to impose taxes on cigarettes on a regular basis as per recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Malik Imran, Country Head, Campaign for tobacco-free kids (CTFK), has mentioned that due to government's decision of increasing Federal Excise Duty (FED) on cigarettes in February 2023, an additional 11.3 billion FED revenue was obtained in fiscal year 2022-23 which is an increase of 9.7% from the previous year. Furthermore, an additional 4.4 billion VAT revenue was obtained in fiscal year 2022-23 which is an increase of 11.5% from the previous year. This additional 15.7 billion revenue makes up 0.201% of GDP which is a significant boost for a struggling economy like Pakistan, he said.

Imran mentioned that these self-explanatory figures reveal that increased taxation is beneficial for economy but the tobacco industry misleads everyone by crying the illicit trade excuse. Imran added that the blown up figure of illicit trade is used to divert people from the underreporting. These companies under-report their production and then sell their non-reported products in the illicit market, causing billions of loss to the national exchequer.

Dr. Ziauddin Islam, a retired government employee, has said that tobacco is the largest silent killer in...

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