ISLAMABAD- Heavy taxation on tobacco products will reduce tobacco consumption and decrease its accessibility to minors, speakers said on Wednesday.

Society for Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) organised a media talk on “Senate committee recommendations to increase tobacco tax”.

Addressing the participants, Senator Muhammad Ali Saif highlighted the Senate body recommendations to increase tobacco tax. 

He expressed confidence that recommendation for tobacco tax reform, if adopted by the government, would prove to be an effective policy that would simplify Pakistan’s tobacco tax system, thus reducing government’s administrative costs (improve enforcement and compliance) and further aligning it with the best global practices.

Furthermore, the recommendations can significantly reduce tobacco use and save lives while raising significant additional tax revenue that can fund government health programs, including tobacco control programmes, a win-win for tobacco control, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Sajjad Cheema – SPARC executive director said that considering the fact that the prices of tobacco products were still within the range of a minor, civil society organisations striving for better future generation of Pakistan were concerned with the situation.

Heavy taxations on tobacco products will reduce tobacco consumption and decrease the accessibility of minors to tobacco products, he said.

This will reduce health bill of government and contribute to clean and healthy environment for future generations, he said.

We urge the government to implement these Senate committee’s recommendations to increase tax on tobacco. This is the better way to save our children, he said.

Addressing the participants, Malik Imran Ahmad from Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Pakistan office, demanded the government to  implement senate committee’s recommendations to further strengthen the tax system.

  Regularly increase the excise tax to account for inflation and income growth and reduce cigarette affordability; harmonize all taxes across tobacco products; and fully implement the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Tobacco Trade, particularly the measures for supply chain control, such as license, tracking and tracing and record keeping, and align the Protocol with the legislation on prosecutions and sanctions for tax evasion.