Pakistan has highest rate of illicit tobacco consumption in Asia with 21.8 billion illicit cigarettes consumed in country, study says

PAKISTAN , December 9, 2013 () – Pakistan tops the list of 11 Asian countries in the consumption of illicit tobacco with highest number of 21.8 billion illicit cigarettes consumed in the country. These numbers were shared in the ‘Asia-11 Illicit Tobacco Indicator 2012’ study by Oxford Economics.

In the reporting year, the domestic illicit use was 18.8 billion cigarettes, whereas the non-domestic consumption of illicit cigarettes stands at 3 billion, which is much lower than the domestic use.

The non-duty paid cigarettes contribute to rise in tobacco consumption by making cigarettes cheaper and more accessible. This makes it more attractive, especially to people who are price sensitive, such as youth and the poor. It also allows cigarettes to be sold as singles instead of packs, or from non-regulated outlets that make it more accessible to youth.

On the other hand the study indicates that the countries with a sharp rise in taxes on legal tobacco brands than the countries with low taxes have the high ratio of illicit consumption.

Heavy taxation on the legal tobacco brands (high tax paying industry) is ultimately promoting the illicit tobacco industry thus allowing criminals and opportunists to get a chance to sell their counterfeit products on cheap rates, which attracts the customers with low purchasing power.

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