Illegal cigarettes seized in Chandigarh, Panchkula

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Illegal cigarettes seized in Chandigarh, Panchkula

A number of illegal cigarettes were seized during raids in Chandigarh and its nearby Panchkula town in Haryana, an official said on Friday.

Chandigarh: A number of illegal cigarettes were seized during raids in Chandigarh and its nearby Panchkula town in Haryana, an official said on Friday.

As per the directions of the Chairman-cum-Additional Secretary of Health, Chandigarh administration, a joint team, comprising officials of the Health, the police, the Excise and Taxation, the Legal Meteorology and the Food Safety and Drug Control, conducted the raid on shops in upscale Sectors 4 and 7-C and Manimajra locality.

The shops were blamed for stocking and selling imported cigarettes without having any purchase record and the mandatory 85 per cent pictorial warning regarding health hazard as required under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003, an official statement said.

The illegal cigarettes valued at Rs 21,000 were self-destroyed by a shopkeeper.

An official said that such raids will be continued by the Permanent Task Force constituted by the Chandigarh Administration to make the public more aware about the harmful effects of tobacco consumption and to prevent the sale of illegal imported cigarettes.

Likewise, major raids were conducted at Budhanpur village in Sector 16 of Panchkula, where most retailers were dealing with imported cigarettes.

Even the Haryana chief minister’s flying squad was involved in the raids, it was learnt.

Illegal sale of imported cigarettes in Punjab and Haryana has become common and poses a serious threat to health of smokers who are getting hooked to catchy packs of international brands, anti-tobacco activists said.

They said that selling illegal cigarettes, an organised crime, is not only evading the state’s high taxes but also playing with the lives of smokers, mainly first-timers, because of inferior manufacturing processes and low quality tobacco with high levels of tar and nicotine.

Trade insiders told IANS that Punjab alone has an annual legal market of 120 million cigarettes and the illegal market accounts for 20 per cent of the total trade.

Chandigarh and Panchkula cities have a market of 30 million and six million cigarettes annually and the illegal market also has a share of 15-20 per cent.

Most of the illegal cigarette brands originate from China and Indonesia and the retailers are attracted to them as they are available at a significantly lower price than the legal cigarettes. They are sold in the market at one fifth the price of a legal product.

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