Alarming growth of sale of illegal cigarettes in Punjab: Tobacco Institute of India

Chandigarh (PTI): Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar are becoming the biggest selling points of illegal cigarettes in the country, claimed Tobacco Institute of India (TII) here on Monday.

TII, which is a representative body of farmers, manufacturers, exporters and ancillaries of the cigarettes’ segment of the tobacco industry in the country, submitted their representation with Director General of Police (DGP) Suresh Arora, seeking action against retailers selling illegal tobacco products in these districts.

“We have submitted a list of outlets selling illegal cigarettes in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar. We want action against these retailers who are selling illegal cigarettes,” Sanidhya Narain, member of TII here, said.

“The issue is becoming a huge problem in Punjab where cities like Ludhiana are becoming the biggest selling points of illegal cigarettes in the country,” claimed Narain.

He claimed retailers were selling illegal cigarettes which were sold cheap due to tax evasion.

“There is a huge price difference between Indian brand of cigarettes and these illegal cigarettes as they carry international brands which are popular among youths,” he said.

Narain claimed these illegal cigarettes were being brought from countries like Malaysia and South Korea.

As per representation, the illegal cigarettes do not adhere to the Indian law and regulations.

“The Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) Act mandates 85 per cent graphic health warning on cigarettes packs. However, smuggled cigarettes are available without mandated graphic health warning,” it said.

As per TII, tobacco products generate excise duty and state taxes to the tune of Rs 31,000 crore [1 crore = 10 million] per annum.