Illicit cigarettes trade causes loss of Rs 80b


The country has lost Rs 80 billion in last five years due to illicit trade in cigarettes and is expected to lose another Rs 100 billion in the next five years.

According to Euromonitor International, a global research agency, Pakistan, the penalties for the sale of smuggled cigarettes included confiscation of such cigarettes, fine up to Rs 50,000, recovery equal to 500 percent of unpaid taxes and the imprisonment up to five years. However, up till now the markets are flooded with smuggled cigarette brands, especially in the absence of enforcement.

Under the laws, the mandatory pictorial and textual health warning in Urdu and English as well as printing of underage sale warning and retail price on each pack is mandatory for cigarettes packs to be sold in Pakistan. Smuggled cigarettes, however, do not comply with any of these mandatory requirements. In addition to that due to non-payment of duties and taxes, the national exchequer suffers huge losses.

In this situation, citizens praised the proposal of the government to increase taxes on tobacco as specified in the finance bill in order to discourage its consumption in public particularly in youth.