Human Development Foundation (HDF) Pakistan and the Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) addressed a Press Conference at the National Press Club Islamabad urging the government to raise taxes on tobacco and tobacco products as existing low levy levels were a grave risk of health to the national population. HDF CEO Azhar Saleem and PANAH General Secretary Sana Ullah Ghuman addressed the media challenging grounds of tax break to the tobacco industry. They were joined on the stage by HDF Executive Director Saeed Ul Hassan.
Citing the HDF-PANAH research “Study to Assess the Volume of Illicit Cigarrette Brands in Pakistan and its Impact on Public Health” they said the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) gave tax breaks to the tobacco industry on unfounded claims of 40% illicit trade. Their latest study in 10 cities found that illicit trade only amounted to 9% of the total sales and there was no ground for a tax break to the tobacco industry that has seen sales reaching record levels.
HDF CEO stressed that prevention is better than cure so hiking tax rates on cigarrettes and tobacco products will save countless lives and will also add billions to the national accounts.