ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has launched a crackdown on illicit sale of counterfeit and non-stamped cigarettes, and seized cigarettes worth Rs96 million.

According to a statement, under the direct supervision of the Member Inland Revenue (IR) Mir Badshah Khan Wazir, IR Field Formations of FBR seized 1,235 packets of cigarettes having approximate value of Rs96 million during the campaign.

A total of 4,652 retail outlets all over the country have been visited out of which 33 have been sealed for illicit tobacco trade.

A total of 204 teams comprising 1,047 number of total human resource took part in an enforcement drive to curb movement of illicit cigarettes.

The FBR chairmanhas lauded the efforts of IR field formations taking part in the exercise. They acknowledged that despite minimal human resource and logistics, Inland Revenue Enforcement Network was persistently making endeavours to eradicate the menace of illicit tobacco trade.

It has further been resolved that all the culprits involved in the illicit tobacco trade and evading the government’s revenue shall be dealt with iron hand and will be liable to penal proceedings under the relevant rules.

In the next phase the repeat offenders are likely to be arrested.

Meanwhile, expressing concern, health activists questioned recent efforts by the tobacco industry to introduce 10-stick packs. This move, according to the activists, not only jeopardises the progress made in tobacco control but also directly impacts children and low-income individuals, who are most vulnerable to the harmful effects of tobacco consumption.

Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, stated that the attempts for 10-stick packs by the tobacco industry was deeply troubling.

“It will not only undermine the progress made in tobacco control but also directly target children and low-income individuals who are most vulnerable to the harmful effects of tobacco consumption.

“Many countries in the world have banned single-stick and small-stick packet sales because they’re easier to purchase for children, youth, and low-income groups, and hence the health burden is very high,” he said.

He added that the tobacco industry’s claims of being one of the highest contributors to the economy was blatant lies.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2024

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