Tobacco products smuggling more than legal imports
The Dollar Business Bureau
Smuggling and illegal trade of tobacco products in India has posed a grave concern for the government as the legal imports of cigarettes was lower than the coming of cigarettes through illegal routes, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday.
“More smuggled cigarettes are coming into India with the amount being detected being worth Rs 162 crore in last financial year, which was more than legal imports into the country,” she told the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.
Terming the illegal imports a matter of serious concern, Sitharaman gave assurance to the Parliament members that the government and Customs department are taking several measures to curb the problem.
To a related question, she replied, “Absolutely advertisements are not entertained on the cigarettes.”
With regard to smuggling concerns, Sitharaman said that her ministry is in constant touch with the Ministry of Finance, under which the Customs department comes, and trying hard for strengthening the borders in order to stop illegal imports of tobacco products.
The Minister further said that the government is exploring ways to entirely stop production of tobacco in the country and offer alternatives to the growers of tobacco.
During the financial year 2014-15, the total number of cases of cigarettes smuggling noticed by the field teams of Customs Department all over the country was 1312 consignments, having an overall value of Rs.9.24 crore, informed Sitharaman.
The number of cigarettes smuggling cases was 2,731, having a value of Rs.16.16 crore during the financial year 2015-16, she added.