Islamabad - In order to control tobacco consumption, the government has to increase the tobacco Tax while the introduction of the Tier-III taxation on premium brands resulted in the increase of the tobacco consumption, a survey revealed on Tuesday.

The Centre for Social Education and Development (CSED) conducted a survey in the twin cities regarding tobacco consumption which suggested that increase in the prices of tobacco products can help decrease the cigarette consumption.

As per the survey results, around 59 percent respondents suggested that a strong co-relation between prices of products and tobacco consumption and in order to control consumption the government needs to increase taxes on Tobacco products. The survey result discovered that in twin cities 92 percent are male tobacco consumers and 8 percent are female consumers. The government needs to adopt this approach and should make it a cornerstone of any future tobacco/cigarettes control policy which is in line with World Health Organization, WHO, Framework on Tobacco Control and this can only be adopted if FBR first comes out of Tobacco Tax Addiction.

The survey reported that among the consumers 32.5 percent are from the age group of 21-25, 23 percent consisted of 26-30 age groups. Similarly, age group 15-20 years is 16.7 percent and 31-35 years 17.1 percent respectively. Respondents of age group 36-40 years comprised of 10.7 percent of the total sample.

The survey said most of the survey respondents (38.8 percent) consume 6-10 cigarettes per day. 27 percent respondents consume 11-15 cigarettes per day. 23 percent survey respondents consume 1-5 cigarettes per day. Whereas 7 percent respondents consume 16-20 cigarettes, the least number of respondents (2.2 percent) consumes 21 plus cigarettes per day. From the given data it is suggested that survey respondents smokes more cigarettes per day. This can be a symptom of price reduction in their brands.

The survey said except Pakistan, cigarette prices have increased elsewhere in the world to discourage smoking and save lives from dangerous diseases caused by smoking. Recent statistics show that Increase in cigarette prices are as low as 10% in India too as high as 100 percent in Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, Pakistan is the only country where cigarette prices of high sellable brands were reduced by 33.33 percent in the 2017-18 budgets. In fact, this was a breach of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of which Pakistan is a signatory. FCTC specifically identifies price increase on Tobacco products a way to discourage its consumption and keep youth away from it.

Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar suggested increasing Federal Excise Duty (FED) on the lower slab, Tier II, of all brands of cigarettes to Rs 44 per pack of 20 cigarettes in 2017-18 budgets, in a bid to reduce tobacco consumption.

The survey said, a new Tier and Slab of taxation, Tier III, was introduced by FBR in the Finance Bill 2017 with the view to increase revenues, however, within weeks the decision proved disastrous.

The Multi-Nationals by lowering prices of its most sellable products which were in Tier II prior to The Finance Bill 2017 to fit them, technically, in tier III and instead of paying tax at the rate of 33.4 per pack of 20 they are now paying only Rupees 16 per pack of 20 cigarettes, reported survey.

According to World Health Organization, tobacco kills over 7 million people every year.