Illegal cigarette trade skyrockets during pandemic

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The illegal cigarette trade in India increased in the FY21 pandemic year, with the value of seized illegal cigarettes reaching the highest level in the past five years, according to data presented to Lok Sabha on Wednesday by the Department of promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT).

According to data provided by the Central Council of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), until February 21 of FY21, ??1,772 cigarettes worth one crore were seized. This is almost ten times higher than the value entered in exercise 20 ??188 crores. Previously, in fiscal years 16 and 18, the government seized cigarettes worth ??2396 crore and 1893 crore respectively. The value of seizures includes both cross-border smuggling and domestic tax evasion.

Responding to a question from a member of Lok Sabha of BJP Jagdambika Pal, Minister of State at the Ministry of Trade and Industry Som Prakash said the CBIC had informed that the World Health Organization believed illicit cigarettes in India to 6% of the market in 2016-17.

“The field formations of the Central Council of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) and the General Directorate of Fiscal Intelligence (DGRI) constantly monitor illegal imports / smuggling of cigarettes. If a case is detected, strict measures are taken in accordance with the Customs Law of 1962 and other legislative provisions in force, if applicable. In addition, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has acceded to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, as adopted under Article 15 of the Framework Convention of the World Organization. Health for Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), to which India is a party, to develop the tracking and tracing mechanism, ”said Som Prakash.

Section 7 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003 (Ban on Advertising and Regulation of Trade, Production, Supply and Distribution) states that no person shall, directly or indirectly, produce, supply or distribute cigarettes or any other tobacco. unless each package of cigarettes or any other tobacco product manufactured, supplied or distributed by it bears the warning specified on its label. The states / UT of Uttarakhand, Chandigarh, Jharkhand, Punjab, Mizoram, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh have issued specific notifications to ban the sale of bulk cigarettes and tobacco products.

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