Health activists and civil society organizations are calling on the government to impose higher taxes on cigarettes in the upcoming 2023-24 budget, signaling a potential increase in smoking costs for Pakistani consumers.

Advocates argue that regular tax hikes on tobacco products, in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), are necessary to combat the detrimental effects of smoking in the country.

Sanaullah Ghumman, representing Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH), emphasised the importance of consistent taxation on cigarettes, urging the government to align with WHO guidelines. Ghumman’s plea reflects the growing concern over the devastating health consequences associated with tobacco consumption.


Malik Imran, Country Head of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), highlighted the impact of the government’s recent decision to raise the Federal Excise Duty (FED) on cigarettes in February 2023. This move generated an additional Rs11.3 billion in FED revenue for the fiscal year 2022-23, marking a 9.7 per cent increase from the previous year. Moreover, an extra 4.4 billion in VAT revenue was collected during the same period, representing an 11.5 per cent rise. These figures amount to a substantial boost of 15.7 billion, contributing 0.201 per cent to Pakistan’s struggling economy.

Imran dismissed the tobacco industry’s claims of illicit trade as a diversion tactic to undermine the benefits of increased taxation. He emphasised that the economic gains resulting from higher prices indicate the viability of this approach, which aids in curbing smoking-related healthcare costs.