Companies to introduce small cigarette packs

21 Apr, 2024

ISLAMABAD: Health activists have raised concern over the tobacco companies’ move to introduce 10-stick cigarette packs, fearing a rise in consumption among vulnerable groups like youth and low-income individuals.

During a media interaction here on Saturday, Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), emphasized that such packs would inevitably find their way back into the local market, directly undermining efforts to discourage smoking among young people and other at-risk demographics.

He said that the tobacco industry had made similar attempts in the past but Ministry of Health did not issue the relevant NOC. The application for 10-stick packs by the tobacco industry is deeply troubling.

He cited past attempts by tobacco industry of circumventing regulations and said that these companies would once again violate the rules.

Ahmed said that excise rules do not allow manufacturers or importers of cigarettes to introduce or sell a new variant of a cigarette brand at a price lower than the lowest actual price within the same brand family.

Despite this regulation, a leading company has launched a new brand, priced at Rs164, substantially lower than its existing family brand, which is priced at Rs212.

Similarly, the ban on sale of single sticks, a measure crucial in deterring vulnerable populations, is being flouted, he said.

Dr Khalil Ahmad Dogar, Programme Manager at the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), pointed out the potential damage to public health initiatives if these 10-stick packs are permitted.

Dogar warned that such a move would roll back progress in reducing tobacco use and awareness of its harmful effects.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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