Illegal Cigarettes on the rise; City govt Lahore’s crack down on the retailers

Illegal Cigarettes in Pakistan

The District Government Lahore following the Direction of DCO Lahore has started a citywide campaign against the sale of illegal cigarettes and other violations in respect of cigarettes. This drive is a result of information provided by the sources that the majority of the wholesalers and retailers are violating many health regulations while selling cigarettes. The sale of illegal cigarettes is at its peak and are also among the top smuggled goods that are brought into the country.

Pakistan bears a loss of billions of rupees in annual excise revenue due to large scale and organized smuggling of popular cigarette brands in Pakistan via Afghanistan. The smuggled cigarettes are easily identifiable as they are sold without pictorial warnings and made in Pakistan stamp, mandatory by the government of Pakistan.

The first step towards spreading awareness regarding illegal cigarettes and smoking as a whole has been initiated. It includes pasting of stickers on retail outlets as well placement of posters and banners in the markets. The awareness campaign aims at educating the retail outlets about 3 specific violations and asking them to refrain from them to avoid punishment. These violations are:

Sale of Cigarette Packets Without Health Warning

Cigarette Packets without the Government of Pakistan mandated health warning are. As per the Cigarette Printing of Warning Ordinance 1979, all cigarette packets without the Urdu and English textual health warning e.g. “Smoking Causes Mouth Cancer: Ministry of Health” and without the Government mandated pictorial health warning are illegal. However, these type of packets, which are smuggled into the country from Afghanistan, are being sold across the city without any hindrance.

Advertisement of Cigarettes

Advertisement of Cigarettes outside the retail/shop premises is prohibited. As per the health Laws, no one can advertise cigarettes outside the shop. However, it is a common practice to put posters and advertisement material in respect of cigarettes outside shops.

Sale of Cigarettes to Minors

Sale by shopkeepers to minors i.e. persons below the age of 18 which is also prohibited under the law. According to information the first part of the campaign is to warn the shopkeepers violating the laws. If the retailers do not comply with the laws even after the warning, enforcement would be started under the law.

The curse of smuggling is a major threat to the economy of Pakistan. Many other smuggled goods involve mobile phones, vehicles, auto parts, high-speed diesel, garments, steel, plastic, tea, television sets, and LCDs, etc. In order to to be rid of this curse, the fancy systems at the airport are not enough. There is a need for strict stance on the smugglers and their helpers that are violating the safety of our borders.

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