Anti-tobacco activists have urged the government to increase the federal excise duty (FED) on cigarettes by at least Rs 20 in the upcoming annual budget 2020-21 to enhance revenue collection and discourage tobacco use. The Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC), Human Development Foundation (HDF) and Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) jointly held a pre-budget press conference here at the National Press Club Islamabad to demand higher taxes on cigarettes for improved health and economy. SPARC Executive Director Sajjad Ahmed Cheema said considering the fact that increase in dollar price has had an effect on the prices of basic goods for living, the prices of tobacco products are still the same which makes it accessible to minors. He said the civil society organizations are worried for better future of Pakistan and are seriously concerned that why heavy taxes are not been imposed on tobacco industry in the country. Heavy taxation on tobacco products will not only reduce tobacco consumption and its accessibility but will also keep the minors off tobacco, he argued.Cheema stated this will also reduce the health bill of government of Pakistan and will contribute to clean and healthy environment for future generations. “We urge to the government to impose higher taxes on tobacco products to save our children,” he added. Human Development Foundation (HDF) CEO Azhar Saleem said that the country is facing a severe shortage of funds to combat the coronavirus pandemic. He further said through changes in the taxation structure, tobacco industry has been evading taxes at the cost of the lives of people. The government needs to keep in mind the growing inflation rate while finalizing the taxes on tobacco products for fiscal year 2020-2021, he said, and urged the government to increase FED on tobacco products by Rs 20 for each slab of tobacco tax structure.Pakistan National Heart Association Secretary General Sana Ullah Ghuman said the government needs to adopt a futuristic approach and channelize the additional revenues into situations where financial setbacks are faced such as the current pandemic of coronavirus. This additional revenue will continue in lessening the financial crunch that the country is facing, he added. According to health experts and advocates, the severe shortage of funds faced by Pakistan to combat the coronavirus could be overcome by imposing more taxation on tobacco products.