Civil society hails KP govt for increase in tobacco cess

NGO says provincial government demonstrated a strong commitment to public health.

Irshadullah Khan

PESHAWAR: The Provincial Alliance for Sustainable Tobacco Control has commended the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government for its decisive action to levy a new tobacco tax through the provincial excise duty.

This significant move is set to generate additional revenue that will be allocated to the health sector, enhancing public health outcomes across the province. Finance Adviser Muzzammil Aslam confirmed that there would soon be an increase in the tobacco cess by up to 400pc, potentially generating over Rs2 billion annually.

The provincial government’s decision to increase the tobacco development cess by Rs50 per kg for virginia, Rs30 per kg for white leaf and rustica tobacco, and Rs20 per kg for Naswar tobacco, is a landmark step towards achieving sustainable health financing.

This initiative directly addresses the long-standing demands of civil society organizations advocating for higher tobacco taxes to fund public health improvements, said the alliance.

The provincial government has demonstrated a strong commitment to public health by responding to these calls for action. The support from Excise Minister Khaleequr Rehman and Health Minister Syed Qasim Ali Shah is also crucial in ensuring the successful implementation of this policy.

Qamar Naseem, a leading civil society activist working on tobacco control, remarked, “The imposition of the tobacco cess and taxes aligns with the WHOs Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) guidelines, which emphasize the need for economic measures to reduce tobacco consumption. The KP government’s responsiveness to civil society’s demands is highly commendable and sets a positive precedent for other provinces.”

Mian Ateeq, a public health activist, added, “Tobacco control is paramount in improving public health. The additional revenue generated from tobacco taxes will provide much-needed resources for healthcare infrastructure, disease prevention programs, and public health campaigns. This policy will undoubtedly save lives and foster a healthier future for the people of KP.”

The alliance added that this forward-thinking approach will not only curb tobacco use but also significantly improve the healthcare system in KP.

The increased funding will enhance medical facilities, support healthcare workers, and improve access to quality healthcare services for all citizens, it stated.

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