All-Pakistan Union of Pan Cigarette Beverage Retailers has expressed concern over the government’s unprecedented increase in the FED rate on locally produced cigarettes. This increase is now seen as a threat to the employment of pan cigarette retailers. The retailers demand an immediate solution to the serious impact on their business due to the high cost of legal cigarettes.
A protest was held outside the Lahore Press Club, where a large number of pan-cigarette vendors participated. The protesters carried placards and raised slogans, demanding that the government revise the tax rate on legal cigarettes, which has led to increased demand for illegal cigarettes.
Relevant Read: Illegal Buyers Prey on Tobacco Growers with Deceptive Offers
The protest was led by Haji Muhammad Mubeen Yusuf Butt, President of the All-Pakistan Union of Pan Cigarette Beverage Retailers.
Addressing the protesters, Haji Muhammad Mubeen Yusuf Butt stated that the federal government has increased the federal excise duty on cigarettes by 250%, by which a tax of Rs 400 is imposed on a pack of Rs 80. Due to this, the sale of legal cigarettes has reduced by 50%. Consumers who are already suffering from inflation are demanding cheap cigarettes, mostly illegal. Selling illegal cigarettes will put shopkeepers in legal trouble, and limiting themselves to selling legal cigarettes will affect their livelihoods.
He further added that the situation has put over 0.7 million pan cigarette retailers across the country in crisis, affecting the livelihood and lives of 5 million people.
Despite informing Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and other relevant authorities about the situation through several letters, the government has not paid any attention to this issue.
He demanded that the government immediately convene a consultative meeting with the retailers to find a solution to the problem. Otherwise, the result will be the starvation of five million people.