islamabad - Tobacco industry has created the smoke screen in presenting statistics of counterfeit tobacco consumptions to get relaxation in next budget while international companies pocketed Rs 30 billion last year, health rights activists said the other day.

A non-profit organisation ‘The Network’ working for tobacco control in Pakistan in its report rejected the claims of tobacco industry that counterfeit tobacco industry has captured the market of the international tobacco companies.

Therefore FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) instead of raising tax should introduce third tier with lower tax incidence that international industry can compete with counterfeit cigarettes. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) The Network Nadeem Iqbal said that facts state different scenario and international companies pocketed a whooping Rs 30 billion profit last year.

CEO ‘The Network’ also said that the entire statistics about cigarette production and sale are controlled by tobacco industry and it manipulates it while presenting to the government to get policies of its own liking to further its business.

“Cigarettes production jumps up closer to budget when hoarding is done anticipating tax increase,” he said. He said already there exist two tiers of tobacco taxation wherein 90 per cent consumed cigarette packs fall in lower tier with lower tax incidence and less consumed with higher taxes fall in upper tier.

WHO estimates, that cigarette prices in Pakistan are among the lowest in the world.

Data shows that reducing cigarette tiers and increasing Federal Excise Duty (FED) on cigarettes boost revenue as in 2012-13, when the tier were reduced to present two, the contribution of cigarettes tax revenue to the FED jumped up from 43.9 per cent in 2011-12 to 50 per cent next year.

To the argument that tax increase results in increase in the production of counterfeit or duty non-paid cigarette, Nadeem says, that FBR should not mix two separate issues i.e. of enforcement and tax increase to reduce consumption.

“Already FBR has a success story of completely wiping out of duty non paid Pine cigarette out of the market. It can also do it now in case of other counterfeit brands.”

Statistics from (GYTS 2013) for children aged 13-15 shows that every 2 in 5 ever smokers initiated cigarette smoking before the age of 10. 

Understanding that Pakistan has a population bulge of youth, the statistics show that approx 11 per cent of the youth between the ages of 13-15 were active tobacco users. 

Approximately 88 per cent of the 13-15 year olds easily obtained cigarettes from any shop, whereas 35% had no problem in buying cigarettes as single sticks.

Approximately 1200 children take up smoking every day in Pakistan.

Quoting tobacco industry date, the State Bank Statistical Bulletin Report of Pakistan revealed that more than 62 billion cigarette sticks were consumed during the fiscal year 2015, whereas the government’s spending on health was only 0.9 per cent of the GDP.