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The Nation

Published Date: Apr 29, 2018

Govt imposes nominal tax on tobacco industry

Discarding the Ministry of National Health Services’ concerns on tobacco control, the government on Friday maintained the third slab of cigarettes introduced by the Federal Board of Revenue and imposed a nominal minor tax on the tobacco industry.
The government imposed 6 per cent tax on the third slab which will increase Rs0.96 each pack price in the category ranging from Rs44 to above 50. Similarly, the same tax percentage imposed on the 1st slab will increase Rs2 per pack in the second slab and Rs4.48 per pack in the first slab cigarettes.
A senior official from the NHS ministry said that the low taxation against the recommendation of health ministry will cause heavy damage to the efforts initiated for heading towards reduction of tobacco control in the country. The official also added that the step would not only impact health sector but will also cost loss to the national exchequer as companies will pay less tax which would not be utilised for tobacco control in the country.
The official said that ministry in December had intimated FBR for elimination of third slab cigarettes while the health and finance standing committees had also recommended FBR to end the slab.
“It will cause damage to health control as Pakistan is a signatory of the FCTC international convention,” he added.
He added that government has to increase the pictorial warning upto 560 per cent on the cigarette pack from June and it had proposed the increase in the price of cigarette in this fiscal year which would have been a successful step for the country during this fiscal year.
The NHS and FBR had remained at loggerheads for elimination of the third slab and increasing of the cigarettes price in the country. The FBR had argued that the health issues in the country for tobacco consumers increased because of the illicit trade in the market and the third slab was introduced to control and discourage the consumption of low standard cigarettes in the country.
In the next fiscal year, the NHS has also proposed Rs28 million for the National Tobacco Control Cell which was established for less consumption of cigarette in the country.
Earlier, a report issued by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) said that Pakistan is among the developing countries with a high tobacco prevalence and high mortality rate.

More than 100,000 people die due to tobacco inducted diseases, the study revealed on Wednesday.
According to the study conducted on national treasury versus public health 2018-19, it was learned that there are above 23.9 million tobacco users in the country and out of which 1,25,000 are dying every year because of tobacco diseases.
The report stated that lung and mouth cancer have a higher prevalence in Pakistan as compared to other forms of cancer and both of these are etiologically linked with tobacco.