The smuggling of illegal cigarettes has increased after the strict ‘COTPA’ law made against tobacco in the country. According to sources, cigarettes are being brought to India through smuggling on a large scale from China and Indonesia. Most of the cigarettes are reaching India through the borders of the northeastern states. It is estimated that due to this, the government is losing revenue of 15-20 thousand crores every year. A day earlier, the Assam Rifles seized illegal cigarettes worth Rs 6.5 crore at the Mizoram border, which were brought to India via Myanmar.
According to a recent report by the Tobacco Institute of India, a quarter of the country’s market share of illicit cigarettes is sold. Every year about 28 billion cigarettes illegal cigarettes are being consumed in the Indian market, causing loss of revenue of 15-20 thousand crores to the country. India has become the fourth largest market for the sale of illicit cigarettes. According to the report, the sale of illegal cigarettes in India has doubled in the last 10 years. The COTPA Act started coming into force ten years ago.
According to the Voluntary Health Association of India, there is tax evasion on illegal cigarettes even in the country where they are made. And they are brought into the country illegally. Therefore, they are available to the people at a low cost. The cheapest cigarettes manufactured in the country are also available at a price of more than two hundred rupees (10 sticks) while illegal cigarettes get 150 rupees per box (20) sticks. Due to this people prefer to buy illegal cigarettes. But illegal cigarettes are not just a case of tax evasion, it also violates the COTPA law on prohibition of tobacco. Under COTPA, it is mandatory to write a picture warning expressing the ill-effects of tobacco on the cigarette box sold in India. But there is no such warning on cigarettes coming illegally. So it should be stopped immediately.
According to government data, illegal cigarettes worth 1772 crores were seized in the country till February 21, while in 2020 illegal cigarettes worth 188 crores were seized. That is, it has increased tenfold. The Customs Department and the Revenue Intelligence Department are engaged in discouraging the business of illegal cigarettes. However, illegal cigarettes are also confiscated on a large scale by the security forces on the borders of the Northeast.