Islamabad, May 30, 2019 (PPI-OT): Special Assistant to PM for National Health Services Dr. Zafar Mirza has termed the approval accorded by the Federal Cabinet on Tuesday to his Ministry’s proposal for levying of Health Tax on tobacco products and sugary drinks as unprecedented and historic. Paying tribute to Prime Minister Imran Khan he said the Prime Minister had put his weight behind the measure despite current economic difficulties as he holds health causes close to his heart.
Terming the introduction of Health Tax as a big win for the people of Pakistan he said the measure would have far reaching impact on their health and well-being and is reflective of our resolve as a nation to take a bold step forward and accord high priority to health over any other consideration. Tobacco is the biggest killer causing death of around 160,189 persons in Pakistan every year. Almost 15.6 million adults currently smoke tobacco in the country whereas around 1200 Pakistani children between age of 6 and 15 start smoking every day.
Moreover, the economic cost of smoking amounts to 143.208 billion rupees. This includes direct costs related to healthcare expenditures and indirect costs related to lost productivity due to early mortality and morbidity. In order to discourage cigarette smoking, increasing revenues and saving money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs, Health Levy on Cigarettes at the rate of ten rupees per pack of twenty cigarette sticks is being imposed along with increase in Federal Excise Duty on cigarettes.
Levy of Health Tax on sugary drinks aims to discourage their excessive use to control the burden and complications of Non Communicable Diseases specifically diabetes. The tax would be levied at the rate of one rupee per two hundred and fifty millilitre. The revenue collected through Levy of Health Tax shall be earmarked for federal health budget including Prime Minister Health Program and Health Promotion.
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