Higher tobacco taxes will not hurt Pakistan's economy

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The prevalence of tobacco use continues to remain one of the critical development challenges in Pakistan as about 30 million adults—19.1 percent of the adult population—currently use tobacco in any form. Tobacco use is estimated to be associated with premature deaths of over 160,000 people in Pakistan in 2017.2 Cigarette taxation is an essential element of tobacco control policy in the country, which serves a dual objective of public health promotion and revenue generation. However, the excise tax rates on cigarettes are well below the widely-accepted benchmark of 70 percent of retail price.