UN: Pakistan better than India in tobacco control


According to the World Health Organization, due to the taxes imposed on cigarettes and other nicotine products, the smokers’ index has decreased greatly as fewer people are able to afford them. On the other hand, India has done little to dissuade the public, as cigarettes are more affordable there.

Pakistan’s replacement of the three-tier cigarette excise tax system to a two-tier specific tax structure is one prominent reason for the decline of tobacco consumption. This change in structure was done in 2013, after which cigarettes in Pakistan became comparatively more expensive.

According to one survey, 25% of the world’s smokers (24.6 crore) and 90% of non-smoke tobacco consumer (29 crore) live in South East Asia. Of this population, around 12 lakh die annually; surprisingly, 10 lakh of these belong to India alone.

Besides the tax increase in Pakistan, the anti-tax activists have been keeping the government under pressure and for the last two months have been protesting to increase the size of pictorial health warning, which  according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) has forced 29.7% of the smokers to quit smoking.

According to the Network for Consumer Protection, activists have also asked the government to force tobacco industry onto plain packaging, which would further reduce tobacco consumption in Pakistan.

As per the UN report, Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, Poland and Pakistan are countries where tobacco goods are less affordable now compared to 2008, whereas, India, Indonesia, China and Vietnam are countries where the affordability, as per latest survey in 2014, is more than it was six years earlier.