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April 25, 2021

Customs seizes smuggled cigarettes worth Rs28.08m in two months

National

April 25, 2021

LAHORE: Model Collectorate of Customs Enforcement & Compliance Lahore carried out an exhaustive drive against smuggled cigarettes and seized smuggled cigarettes worth Rs28,085,000 (Rs28.08 m) during two months of current financial year.

According to documents available with The News, “at least 5,714,000 smuggled cigarettes were seized from January to March”. In February 13, at least 400,000 Milano smuggled cigarettes of value Rs4,000,000 were seized by Custom department Lahore. On February 23, at least 550,000 Benson & Hedges and Dunhill valuing Rs6, 000,000 were seized. In March 10, at least 40,000 Pine Lights, Milano, King smuggled cigarettes worth Rs400,000 were seized while on March 18 at least 4,154,000 Business More and Gold Leaf smuggled cigarettes worth Rs14,985,000 were sized.

On March 26, two seizures were made. In one seizure, 490,000 Red Virginia smuggled cigarettes worth Rs2,200,000 were seized while on same day 80,000 Business, Elegance Light and Capstan cigarettes worth Rs500,000 were seized.

Basit Maqsood Abbasi, Collector of Model Collectorate of Customs Enforcement & Compliance Lahore, said Customs department believes zero tolerance in smuggling and takes action immediately. According to him, within no time FIRs were registered to discourage smuggling. He said they had activated the network of informers to gather correct information about the places of smuggled cigarettes and then with the assistance of law-enforcement agencies including police, raided these points seized the smuggled cigarettes. He also shared that Customs Anti-Smuggling teams will closely monitor the cigarettes smugglers in passenger buses and cars along with goods transport coming from Peshawar and Quetta.

Smuggling of cigarettes could be stopped by reducing number of its customers in Pakistan, said Malik Imran, country head of the Tobacco-Free Kids (TFK). He said high taxation is a deterrent. The government should discourage the smokers by increasing taxes on cigarettes. Pakistan is perhaps the only South Asian country where cigarettes are sold cheap. He said smokers spend 40 percent of their income on cigarettes. It is a handsome amount of their income which was being wasted by buying cigarettes. The smokers could spend this amount on education of their children. It is pertinent to mention that experts have shown their concern and cited World Health Organisation (WHO) report that consumption of tobacco has risen by 30 percent. He quoted WHO report, “175,000 (approx) people die every year in Pakistan because of various coronary and pulmonary ailments caused by smoking. He said teenagers are the main target of cigarette manufacturing companies. “On a daily basis, around 1,200 children in Pakistan take to smoking”.

“Tobacco consumption can be reduced by enhancing taxes on it, as it has been seen in European countries,” he added. Cigarettes companies lure youth in Pakistan which is more than 60 percent of total population. If prices of cigarettes are increased, majority of the youth would not be able to buy from their pockets, he concluded.