Pakistan’s Tobacco Control Challenges

On May 31, 2022, the international community commemorated World No Tobacco Day. However, the Day in Pakistan reminded us all of the sordid reality that cigarette affordability, a critical weapon for reducing smoking, has increased in Pakistan over the last three years, because the Cabinet approved the additional imposition of Rs 10 tax per packet, which has remained a dead letter.

Despite the fact that tobacco claimed the lives of around 200,000 people in Pakistan last year, and the smoking-related economic burden reached 1.15 percent of GDP, the country languishes at a very low score of 1.13 on the Tobacco Tax Index, despite signing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Tobacco control efforts are gaining popularity around the world as people become more aware of the harmful effects of tobacco on their health and the socioeconomic consequences for a huge number of people.

However, in different countries, increased awareness has had varying effects on policy design and successful enforcement. Pakistan is one of those countries where, while the Federal Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination has recently demonstrated a greater awareness of the issues, progress on the ground in terms of more robust policy and institutional infrastructure development has been painfully slow.