KARACHI: Pakistanis burnt their Rs250 billion to ashes through smoking of over 64bn cigarettes in the financial year FY14, disclosed a State Bank report recently issued.
The State Bank’s Statistical Bulletin reports that Pakistanis smoked 64.48bn cigarettes in the year FY-14.
Despite the rising cost of cigarettes, manufacturers have succeeded in maintaining and keeping up with the demand.
The average price of cigarette is considered Rs4 (conservative estimate) and the total price of 64.48bn cigarettes comes to an estimated Rs258bn.
The most popular brand Gold Leaf is available at Rs100 per pack of 20 cigarettes or Rs5 per cigarette.
The minimum price of cigarettes available in the market is Rs50 per pack of 20 cigarettes or Rs2.5 per cigarette.
Costly imported cigarettes are also available in the market which can go up to Rs150 plus per pack.
Though there is no research available as to how much the low income group contributes to the huge figure of 64.48bn cigarettes, however there is no doubt that the group is actively consuming cigarettes manufactured in the country.
It is believed that about 110 million Pakistanis cannot afford two meals and face low to moderate food insecurity. However, this large population is also responsible for the huge turnover in the cigarette industry.
If calculated on per day basis, 177 million cigarettes per day were consumed in FY-14.
Though the figure shared by the SBP bulletin is based on recorded/official sales, billions of smuggled, fake and unbranded cigarettes are produced and sold in the country.
Cigarettes dealers said branded cigarettes are smuggled from Pakistan to regional countries due to better taste of tobacco produced in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, tobacco and cigarette smoking is said to be responsible for 90 per cent of lung cancer cases. Over 100,000 people, including women and children become victim to lung cancer annually while many more are left disfigured and with life-long illnesses including heart disease and hypertension.
In this scenario, the government and health authorities have failed to curtail the number of smokers in the country which continues to increase with each passing day.
Though the Prohibition of Smoking in Enclosed Places and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance 2002 is there, its implementation remains a hard task for the health agencies.
Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2014