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Pakistan’s inadequate measures against tobacco industry result in over 160,000 deaths annually

Pakistan's inadequate measures against tobacco industry result in over 160,000 deaths annually

ISLAMABAD, APR 30 /DNA/ – Pakistan’s performance in preventing the influence of multinational tobacco manufacturing companies has been found unsatisfactory, resulting in the deaths of above one hundred and sixty thousand people in the country annually, a global study reveals.

An international watchdog on tobacco control, the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC) in its latest finding of 2023 has included Pakistan in an index where the tobacco industry heavily influences the governments.

According to the findings of the international watchdog Pakistan’s performance in adopting measures to prevent the industry’s influence, ensuring transparency, and avoiding the conflict of interest with the multinational tobacco companies has remained unsatisfactory.

Mentioning the names of Pakistan Tobacco Company and British American Tobacco, the GGTC said that in 2021, 163,672 deaths in Pakistan occurred primarily by these two top producers of tobacco.

It further said that in Pakistan, tobacco companies are not prohibited from promoting themselves through so-called socially responsible activities and from promoting their products through sponsorships of events, activities, or individuals.

According to GGTC findings, tobacco taxes in Pakistan as a percentage of retail price is 61% while the global standard is 70%.

Meanwhile, the International Monitory Fund (IMF) Technical Assistance Report titled ‘Pakistan Tax Policy

Diagnostic and Reform Options’ released in February, on the consumption of cigarettes in Pakistan, has advised Pakistan to overhaul its tax system by increasing taxes on non-essential items like cigarettes and applying a uniform tax on cigarettes regardless of their national or multinational brand.

Pakistan is currently contributing only 0.5% percent of GDP in revenue during FY21 while cigarette taxation has contributed 0.19% of the GDP, at current levels as a percentage of GDP, and has remained relatively stable in recent years.

The World Bank also in its report Pakistan Development Update’ has highlighted that a significant revenue gain of 0.4 percent of GDP equal to 505.26 billion rupees could be achieved by applying the current rate on premium cigarettes, which is Rs. 16.50 per cigarette to standard cigarettes as well.

On the other side, a recent study by London’s Imperial College titled ‘Tobacco & global environment footprint’ has ranked Pakistan among nine poor countries that produce 90 percent of cigarettes for the world.

The study finds that tobacco production in underdeveloped countries should be a cause of concern for policymakers as out of the top 10 tobacco-producing countries, 9 including Pakistan are developing and falling in the category of low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs).

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