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Wolesi Jirga to hike cigarette tax in anti-smoking drive

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: Chief of the Health and Youth Commission of the Wolesi Jirga (WJ) said that the parliament is set to raise import duty on cigarettes in the new law, in a move to deter smokers and consumer of tobacco.

Dr Naqibullah Faiq told Afghanistan Times that MPs are busy in drafting a new law to accelerate campaign against smoking. Duty on cigarettes will increase by more than 50 percent.

He said that though according to the current law the government should impose 50 percent duty on cigarettes, but it is not implemented, because the customs charge 14 percent. “It will not help us to deter smokers and prevent them from harms of tobacco,” he pointed out.

The health commission of the WJ in coordination with Ministry of Public Health and other relevant departments is working to hike the duty on cigarette by more than 50 percent, Faiq said.

When asked about exact percentage, he said that the import duty would increase up to 100 percent. The lawmaker said that it would not only help in reducing numbers of smokers but would also generate handsome amount in revenue.

He added most of young people have become smokers due to easy access and low cost of cigarettes. “After smoking cigarettes many people want to try drugs. Therefore, the law will help us to counter drug addiction as well,” he said.

Regarding effectiveness of the proposed law, he told Afghanistan Times that when tax is increased by 10 percent every time on cigarettes, it reduces cigarette consumption by four to seven percent.

According to a survey report the number of drug users rose up to three million in Afghanistan. Ministry of Public Health has said that out of three million drug users, 1.4 million are addicted to drugs and 1.6 million others are using and linked with drug.

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