Some 85 billion cigarette sticks are consumed in Pakistan annually whereas 23 per cent population of the country, most of them are youngsters, are smokers, said Jawwad Riaz of Nielson Pakistan here Wednesday.
Sharing the result of a study conducted under the auspices of Communications Research Strategies (CRS), Jawwad said some 20 billion sticks consumed in the country were `illicit' as therequired taxes were not paid.
He said the federal government lost about Rs 24 billion revenue due to 'illicit cigarette trade' in the year 2014 alone.
Jawwad opined that the Federal Excise Duty (FED) on tobacco sector had not resulted into proportionate growth in revenue for the national exchequer.
Increasing price differential between the duty paid and illicit cigarettes, he said, was the major cause of illicit trade.
He argued that formulation of effective policies and practical steps at governmental level coupled with social awareness and coordination among stakeholders were essential to `curb mushroom illicit cigarette trade in Pakistan '.
The government, Jawwad added, was serious for reducing consumption of cigarettes in the country. For that it was necessary that the existing laws be implemented in an effective manner and run a campaign to foster awareness among the people, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, CRS Chief Executive Officer Aniq Zafar said that it was vital for all the stakeholders in Pakistan to not only develop an understanding of the existing conditions involving illicit trade in cigarettes but also take a consolidated and unanimous approach to play an effective role against the growing menace.