In civilized democratic countries, states have increased taxes on tobacco sales as an effective strategy for reducing consumption following unanimous scientific conclusion that it leads to spread of cancer.
The US Federal Government has forced Tobacco Industry to reimburse state for health related costs through high taxation. In historic decision a jury forced RJ Reynolds awarding $23.6 Billion punitive damages to widow of a long-term smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996. This was upheld by Florida Supreme Court in 2012. In sharp contrast Pakistan Federal Government has criminally reduced taxes on sales of cigarettes in recently passed Finance Bill, displaying complete disregard for spread of cancer. In fact this move will encourage smoking leading to rise in incidences of cancer.
This criminal disregard by Federal Government violates its constitutional and moral obligation to take preventive measures for spread of terminal deceases. To make up for deficit caused by low tax collection on income, FBR relies on indirect taxation. It has outsourced tax collection by resorting to indirect taxation collected by utility companies and consumer sales. Blinded by their compulsion, FBR has become an agent to promote cigarette sales, knowing that this would lead to deaths of thousands. In a country where State offers almost negligible health coverage, FBR is guilty of culpable homicide by promoting tobacco sales on grounds of increasing revenues.
The unfortunate bitter reality is that PTC and major Land Mafia groups have hired services of super retired generals and bureaucrats for networking to secure undue favors from FBR for tax reduction and amnesty schemes. Welfare of influential retired pensioners at cost of citizen’s cancer hazard is shocking.
MALIK TARIQ ALI,
Lahore, May 23.