LAHORE : In order to control the sale of smuggled cigarettes across Punjab, Home Minister Punjab Tariq Pervez has directed him to take strict action against the smuggled cigarettes including the Korean brand Pine, which are being sold openly in the local market in open violation of applicable laws. The minister issued these directives in a letter written to the IG. He also took notice of the advertisements issued by FBR recently in this regard, warning the retailers and wholesalers against sale of smuggled Pine cigarettes.

, while calling for relevant action by field formations of police force.

FBR through a series of publicly issued warnings, over the last few months, has stressed the need to curb the smuggled cigarette trade especially the PINE brand.

Smuggled cigarettes, however, do not comply with any of these mandatory requirements. In addition to that due to non-payment of duties and taxes, the national exchequer suffers huge losses.

According to Euromonitor International, a global research agency, Pakistan government has lost Rs 80 billion in last five years due to illicit trade in cigarettes and is expected to lose another Rs. 100 billion in the next five years.

The penalties for the sale of smuggled cigarettes include confiscation of such cigarettes, fine up to Rs. 50,000, recovery equal to 500% of unpaid taxes and the imprisonment up to 5 years. However up till now the markets are flooded with smuggled cigarette brands, especially in the absence of enforcement by law enforcement agencies.

Understanding the severity of the issue, Federal Board of Revenue has come down hard on the illicit cigarette traders and the Home Minster taking queue from them has also directed action against this menace. This is indeed an important and timely initiative of the Home Department as it comes at a time when FBR is stepping up its efforts in this regard.