Civil Society applauds rise in taxes on local cigarettes

PESHAWAR:Blue Veins, a local NGO working in Peshawar, and Provincial Alliance for Sustainable Tobacco Control Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have applauded the recent massive increase in federal excise duty on sales of cigarettes by the Government.

In a press statement issued here on Friday, the organization commended the price hikes, saying that price measures are the most effective way of discouraging tobacco consumption and show Government's commitment to public health.

The recent issuance of a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) on February 14, 2023, has revised the taxes on locally produced cigarettes, with FED doubled on cigarettes that have an initial price on the packaging exceeding 9,000 per 1,000 cigarettes, to 16,500/- per 1000 cigarettes. This move is expected to generate billions of rupees in revenue for the national exchequer while discouraging smoking among children.

The press statement says that increasing the price of cigarettes is a recommended measure under the FCTC to reduce tobacco consumption and its harmful effects on health, as it can discourage smoking and generate revenue to fund public health initiatives. The Research shows that increasing the price of cigarettes is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use.

Qamar Naseem Program Manager Blue Veins said, “There is strong evidence that increasing the price of cigarettes is an effective way to reduce tobacco use.

When the price of cigarettes is higher, people are less likely to start smoking and more likely to quit. This is because higher prices make it more expensive for people to maintain their tobacco habit, which can be a significant financial burden over time.”

“Additionally, higher prices can discourage young people from starting smoking in the first place, as they may be less able to afford it,” he added.

Zahoor Ahmad, a child rights expert and member of the Provincial Alliance for Sustainable Tobacco Control Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said the decision by the government to increase cigarette prices is an important step towards reducing tobacco use, particularly among vulnerable populations like youth and low-income individuals.

Amna Afridi, a young women’s rights activist from Khyber Agency, said we applaud the government for taking this important step towards promoting public health and reducing the harms associated with tobacco use.

"We also encourage the government to continue to prioritize public health by implementing other evidence-based policies, such as smoke-free laws and restrictions on tobacco advertising," she added.