ISLAMABAD: Minister of Information, Broadcasting, and Parliamentary Affairs, Murtaza Solangi, champions the approach of implementing tax hikes to deter and decrease tobacco usage in the nation.
In a significant address at an event organized by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child in collaboration with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), Minister Murtaza Solangi emphasized the necessity of raising taxes on tobacco to discourage its consumption.
A study conducted by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) revealed the substantial economic burden associated with smoking-related diseases and fatalities, amounting to Rs 615.07 billion ($3.85 billion) in 2019, equivalent to 1.6 percent of the GDP.
Aligning with global guidelines, Solangi emphasized the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Guidelines, which advocate for taxation as a primary tool to curb tobacco consumption.
Research studies and WHO recommendations have consistently identified high tobacco taxes as the most effective means to reduce cigarette consumption, especially among vulnerable groups.
Solangi commended the recent policy shift in the fiscal year 2022-23, where the Federal Excise Duty (FED) on cigarettes was increased after a three-year period of stagnation. This move not only contributed to substantial revenue growth but also played a pivotal role in decreasing cigarette consumption, as indicated by the study.
Dr. Maheen Malik, Director of Tobacco Control for the South Asia Region at CTFK, expressed gratitude for the commitment of CTFK’s partner organization in Pakistan and pledged continued collaboration with stakeholders to address challenges posed by tobacco consumption.
Solangi concluded his address by paying tribute to those advocating for a tobacco-free Pakistan and endorsing high taxes on cigarettes. He assured ongoing support, stating, “Even before I held a ministerial position, I stood by your side, and my support for you will persist in the future.”