LAHORE: Smuggled cigarettes without the health warning continue to harm the health of the citizens who are unaware of the dangers of smoking.
Experts said that the unavailability of warning and the badly damaged lips’ image encourage the old and new smokers, an expert said. On the other hand due to non-payment of duties and taxes, the national exchequer suffers huge losses, they said.
Law experts are of the view that smuggled cigarettes, available in the market are violating the regulatory restrictions and without the mandated health warnings. The penalties for the sale of smuggled cigarettes include confiscation of such cigarettes, fine up to Rs50,000, recovery equal to 500% of unpaid taxes and the imprisonment up to five years. However, now the markets are flooded with smuggled cigarette brands, especially in the absence of law enforcement.
Understanding the severity of the issue, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has come down hard on the illicit cigarette traders and the Home Ministry Punjab has also directed action against this menace.
A strict action has been ordered against smuggled cigarettes, which are being sold openly in the domestic market violating applicable laws.
According to official sources, in order to control the sale of smuggled cigarettes across the province, the Home Minister Punjab has written a letter to Inspector General of Police Punjab.
The letter also makes note of the advertisements issued by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) recently in this regard, warning the retailers and wholesalers against sale of smuggled cigarettes, while calling for relevant action by field formations of police force.
The FBR through a series of publicly issued warnings, over the last few months, has stressed the need to curb the smuggled cigarette trade.
According to existing 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.
Smuggled cigarettes, however, do not comply with any of these mandatory requirements.
The government that has failed to arrest the smuggling of the cigarettes should make strenuous efforts to discourage the smuggled and counterfeiting cigarettes in the domestic market, traders said.