Price Hike on Cigarettes Backfires in Pakistan

News Desk
1 Min Read
Price Hike on Cigarettes Backfires in Pakistan

A recent study by Umeed-e-Sehar, a public health organization in Pakistan, revealed a surprising outcome of the government’s strategy to curb tobacco use through cigarette price hikes. Despite the increase, 89% of smokers surveyed reported no decrease in consumption. Instead, a significant shift (71%) towards cheaper brands emerged, with a concerning 67% switching to illegal, tax-evaded cigarettes.

The study, titled “The Impact of Cigarette Price Increase on Smoking Behavior & Patterns,” surveyed over 2,000 smokers and 60 retailers across Pakistani cities. It found that the 154% federal excise duty increase backfired, leading people to cheaper alternatives. This not only undermines public health goals but also reduces government revenue through tax evasion.

Retailers confirmed a surge in demand for untaxed cigarettes (87%), with 83.5% reporting a rise in sales of packs without tax stamps. The price hike caused a shift in the market, with most respondents (62.4%) opting for cheaper illegal brands between 80 and 120 rupees.

“These findings are a wake-up call for policymakers,” said Muzammil Sheikh, CEO of Umeed-e-Sehar. The well-intended price hike has unintentionally fueled the illegal cigarette trade, jeopardizing public health efforts and tax collection.

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