Local brands of cigarettes sold below the legal price
LAHORE – Local brand tobacco companies are selling cigarettes below the legal minimum price, breaking health rules and hampering government initiatives to discourage smoking. During a market research it was found that brands such as Gold Street, Olympic, Hero, Kisan, Gold Cup, Melburn, Press and Cricket were selling in the market below the legal price. These brands were priced at Rs. 35, Rs. 25, Rs. 30, Rs. 20, Rs. 33, Rs. 35, Rs. 35 and Rs. 15 per packaged respectively.
Government taxes alone are around Rs. 28 per pack of 20 cigarettes. According to market sources, some of these local brands in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and AJ&K province are sold at a price that does not even cover these government levies. The approximate loss of government revenue is $ 250 million.
The government of Pakistan introduced the minimum price for cigarettes per pack of 20 cigarettes in 2006. Currently, the minimum price is Rs 42 per pack. This law aims to end the availability of extremely inexpensive cigarettes for young people and low-income segments of the population.
These local manufacturers are playing with the lives of young people to earn more money. These brands are flourishing due to a good distribution chain, a ready market for illicit products, lack of enforcement and corrupt practices.
These tax-evading local brands not only violate anti-smoking regulations, but also violated the 2009 tobacco advertising guidelines by offering different incentives to attract smokers such as tractors, cycles, motorcycles and many more. articles seen on various walls across Pakistan for quite a long time. sometimes.
Such bold advertising campaigns across Pakistan for these local brands show complete disregard for Pakistan’s anti-smoking and advertising regulations.
An economic expert explained that young people and low-income people want to buy cheap products and local manufacturers who run this illicit tobacco business are taking advantage of this demand for cheap cigarettes.
He warned that if the government did not address these issues in time, these illicit local brands would not only continue to attract young people to smoking, but would also result in huge tax losses for the public purse.
What is needed is better enforcement of existing regulations and a dedicated task force that could ensure that none of the cigarettes are sold below the minimum price in Pakistan. The government should also consider carrying out an awareness campaign at the retail level, informing retailers of the illegality of local brands sold below the legal minimum price.
Regulation without enforcement is futile. Instead of introducing more regulations on top of the many existing regulations, they should focus on enforcing existing regulations and play a more responsible role in protecting young people and the low-income segment.