Thursday, June 20, 2024
Thursday, June 20, 2024
HomePakistanRising Cigarette Prices Lead to Decline in Smoking Rates in Pakistan

Rising Cigarette Prices Lead to Decline in Smoking Rates in Pakistan

Smoking rates in Pakistan have dropped significantly, with an 18% decline linked to rising cigarette prices, according to a report by Islamabad’s Center for Research and Dialogue (CRD).

This decline underscores the effectiveness of high tobacco taxes, a strategy supported by the World Health Organization (WHO). The report shows a marked decrease in cigarette consumption, with 15% of respondents saying they reduced smoking due to higher prices. This reduction translates to an estimated 11 billion fewer cigarettes smoked annually. Pakistan’s total cigarette consumption, which ranges from 72 to 80 billion sticks a year, includes taxed, smuggled, and untaxed products.

Despite these promising results, the report noted that Pakistan still has some of the world’s cheapest cigarettes. This highlights the need for further tax increases to effectively curb smoking. The government’s decision to raise Federal Excise Duty (FED) rates by 146% for cheaper brands and 154% for premium brands in 2023 has been a key factor in the decline. However, cigarettes in Pakistan remain much cheaper than in other South Asian countries.

Maryam Gul Tahir, Director of CRD, urged the Pakistani government to continue raising cigarette prices to maintain the decline in smoking. “Pakistan has a long way to go in tobacco taxation,” she emphasized. “Public health must be prioritized over industry interests.”

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also advocate for stronger taxation, recognizing the link between higher prices and lower consumption. The recent report, coupled with international examples, solidifies the case for price hikes as an effective tool to reduce smoking rates.

As Pakistan moves forward, evidence-based policies promoting public health and fiscal responsibility are crucial. Building on this momentum can lead to a healthier and more prosperous Pakistan. The World Bank recommends a uniform tax structure for all tobacco products to further reduce consumption and boost government revenue. Their estimates suggest a significant revenue increase (0.4% of GDP) if the current tax rate on premium cigarettes is applied to standard cigarettes as well.

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