ISLAMABAD-Above 60 percent of smokers would quit smoking if the prices of cigarettes are increased, while less than 10 percent will opt for low price cigarette, a study said on Monday.

A report launched by FFO, a think tank working on Non Communicable Diseases and tobacco control in its report rejected the tobacco industry arguments about shifting of smokers towards cheaper brands if prices increased.

Study said that 61% of the smokers would quit or reduce smoking if price is increased. Only 8% of the smokers would opt for cheaper cigarettes if price is increased.

The report ‘The burden of illicit trade of cigarettes in Islamabad’ the policy of reducing cigarette prices was introduced by FBR in the last government regime. Globally, tobacco industry lobbies for favourable tax structure arguing that an increase in taxes will harm the economy and increase illicit trade.

The study found that there are only 15.95% of the cigarettes per day consumed in Islamabad, classified as illicit. And the burden of illicit trade in cigarettes in Islamabad is almost half than quoted by tobacco industry.

Project Manager FFO Faisal, in his presentation explained that 15.95% of cigarettes per day consumed in Islamabad were classified as illicit.

Out of 15.95%, only 10.74% of cigarettes were illicit as smuggled and 5.2% cigarettes were illicit as low priced or duty not paid (DNP).

He further said that smoking was inversely related to academic qualification and price, the respondents appear to be less educated (65.7% were matriculate or below), 25.5% were willing to quit smoking if the price of cigarettes be doubled. While 36.2% were of the opinion to reduce smoking if price of cigarettes be doubled. 1,131smokers of the study were smoking total 14,463 cigarettes per day. Out of these smokers, 179 were found of smoking 2,307 sticks of illicit brands and 952 smokers were using 12,156 sticks of legal brands.

Sana Ullah Ghuman, General Secretary, Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) believes that Pakistan is one of the fifteen countries worldwide with the heavy burden of tobacco related ill health issues.

There are laws to control tobacco sales for minors to promote the healthy lifestyles, he added. He further talked about that companies promoting e-cigarettes are less harmful as compared to traditional smoking is equally harmful and destructive for human body and society.

Anti tobacco activists in pre-budget proposals recommend solutions to the federal government on short term (Fiscal Years 2019/20).

According to the calculations it is predicted that the tax reform would generate significant additional total tax revenue of about PKR 205.9 billion over 3 year, equivalent to an average annual increase in total tax revenue of about 51% (or about PKR 32.3 billion per year). Increase in the excise tax share in the price from about 45.9% currently to 57.6%, somewhat closer to the 70% level recommended by the World Health Organization.

Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) in its letter written to all federating units for the enforcement of tobacco control laws has said that according to Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 2014 almost 24million (19.1%) adults currently use tobacco in any form in Pakistan. This accounts for 15.6million (12.4%) adults who currently smoke tobacco, including 3.7mliion adults using water pipes, hokkah or shisha, and another 9.6 million (7.75) adults who use smokeless tobacco.