WHO study links illicit cigarettes sale with health issues

ISLAMABAD   -   Showing concern over the in­creased number of yearly deaths related to tobacco consumption in Pakistan, the World Health Organiza­tion (WHO) has linked this grave situation to several factors especially the illicit trade of cigarettes amid non-implementation of relevant laws.

“Illicit trade market in Pakistan ranges from 9 to 17 percent of the total cigarette market. However, none of the studies has estimated the extent of the coun­terfeit issue,” reveals a recently conducted study by the WHO on illicit trade market in the country.

The study titled ‘Incidence of illicit trade of ciga­rettes in Pakistan: A case study for Islamabad Capital Territory’ also stressed that the most effective way to reduce tobacco consumption is to increase the prices of tobacco products.

As part of this study, which is based on Pakistan Bureau of Statistics data, WHO conducted a survey of cigarettes retail market in Islamabad to deter­mine the quantum of illicit cigarette sale. As many as 500 empty cigarette packs were collected from ven­dors, streets and garbage depots/dumps in each un­ion council and the data shows most of the cigarette packs were of illicit brands, shows the survey.

The study found that the illicit market share is around 23 percent out of which 47 percent is smug­gled and 45 percent is non-tax paid. The study re­veals that 8 percent of the illicit market share is of counterfeit cigarettes.

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