The unchecked illegal sale of cigarettes in Pakistan is posing a serious threat to public health and nullifying Government’s tobacco control initiatives. According to the Federal Ministry of National Health Services Regulations, 166,000 deaths are caused by smoking in Pakistan every year. As per the statistics of the federal ministry, children and youth between the ages of 6 and 15 are starting to smoke on a daily basis in the country. These alarming statistics prove that tobacco control laws are being openly violated and despite having legal authority, the authorities are not interested in stopping the illegal sale of cigarettes. Despite the Government’s ban, we see cigarette promotions, cigarettes are being sold to minors and despite a regulatory minimum price of Rs.63 per pack, cigarettes are being sold as low as Rs. 20.
It is imperative for authorities to crack down against violators of laws and eliminate the illegal sales of cigarettes before it is too late. The property of those involved in the illicit cigarette trade and the stock of illicit cigarettes should be confiscated and the scope of disciplinary action should be extended to illegal cigarette stocks, dealers, and retailers.
USAMA GHULAM RASOOL