LAHORE: Despite the ban imposed by the government about advertising and reward programs for cigarette sales, illegal cigarette brands are violating the law by offering incentives to retailers and consumers, such as promotional materials and reward schemes.

Illegal tobacco companies in cities like Sargodha, Sahiwal, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi, Sukkur, and Hyderabad are openly using advertisements and rewards to lure customers, it has been revealed.

It may be noted that in January 2020, the Ministry of National Health Services issued SRO 72 (I)/2020, which strictly prohibits the promotion and advertising of cigarettes through any media.

Fareed Ahmed Siddiqi, spokesperson of the Citizens’ Health Initiative, said that despite the ban, no action is being taken against violators by the district administration and provincial governments, resulting in widespread illegal smoking. In different regions, he stated that various illegal cigarette brands are offering cash prizes, free packs and even mobile phones as rewards for buying cigarettes.

They are also violating the advertising code by using large promotional posters and gold coupons in cigarette packs to attract consumers.

He emphasized that these violations pose significant challenges to the government's health policy and result in substantial losses to the national exchequer. He stressed the need for the government to rigorously enforce the laws and crack down on companies and vendors involved in the illicit trade of cigarettes and advertising violations nationwide.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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