Cigarette smuggling has not only been causing serious losses to the national exchequer but also terrible violating government’s needs of printing health warnings on every cigarette package sold in the markets. A senior official at a tobacco company explained that it was unfortunate that billions of illegal cigs are being sold in the country causing billions in state income losses. It is also disruption the government’s public health agenda, he said.
Smuggled cigarettes had raised their sales by 65 per cent in the last year. “The state government must take serious action for to stop this influx of smuggled cigs,” the local tobacco company official declared.
It may be also remaindered that a particular imported smoking brand which is available in almost every market at a price of approximately Rs30 per package. If this brand was imported as per legislation of the country it would have paid almost Rs30 to Rs40 per packaging in taxes and duties to the government. This smoking brand alone causes a loss of billions every year but despite of this no government action is being taken and pressure is minimal, he reported.
A country wide study has detected that such smuggled cigarettes packs are being sold in horrible violation of all the regulations, rules and ordinances in the market.
When asked from tobacco retailers they responded that it was very easy to recognize illegal and non-illegal cigs by simply looking at the package.
“Smuggled cigarette packs would be the one without the pictorial health warning while the locally manufactured cigarette packages carry the pictorial as well as written health warnings,” a retailer explained.
Haji Mobeen, chairman of the Cigarette Retailers Association, mentioned that neither any official from the health department or from legislation enforcing agencies have ever stopped by to check or question the sale of the foreign unlawful cigarettes.
He pointed out also that if the sale of these smuggled smoking brands had to be stopped, it should be stopped at the main source from where these were coming into Pakistan.
“We are only selling such brands because these are available to all of us easily in the wholesale tobacco market,” Mobeen concluded.