Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi-KABUL: In a bid to deter smokers, the Wolesi Jirga raised the import duty on cigarettes by 100 percent.
The lawmakers on Monday voted to amend tobacco control law and increase cigarette duty from 50 percent to 100 percent. Only 12 of the 125 lawmakers present in the plenary session raised red cards to express their dissent over the decision.
The lawmakers who voted in favor of the increase in duty on cigarettes argued that the decision will discourage smokers and will eventually help in control of cancer.
Abdul Wodood Paiman, a lawmaker, said that based on the information that he has received mostly Pakistani traders are importing cigarettes to Afghanistan. He said that the concerned organizations should spare no efforts to control use of tobacco in Afghanistan.
Naqibullah Faiq, a member of the Health and Youth Commission of the Wolesi Jirga told Afghanistan Times that the Ministry of Finance (MoF) was reluctant to implement the tobacco control law last year.
“The duty on import of cigarettes was 50 percent previously, but the MoF was charging only 20 percent taxes,” he added.
He said that increase in the duty will cost tens of millions of dollars losses in revenue, as the country re-export the imported cigarettes to neighboring countries.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) welcomed the decision and said that it will help in deterring smokers and consumers of tobacco.
Ismael Kawosi, spokesman for the MoPH, told Afghanistan Times that increase in import tax of cigarettes will also help in deter children and teenagers from smoking cigarette. “The decision will have positive impact on health of smokers, as using tobacco result in different diseases including lung cancer,” he said.