• May 23, 2024

Pakistan Advised to Reject 10-Stick Packs

 Pakistan Advised to Reject 10-Stick Packs
Photo: Taco Tuinstra

Health advocates are urging the government of Pakistan to reject an application by Pakistan Tobacco Co. (PTC) for permission to pack cigarettes in cartons of 10 sticks, reports The Nation.

According to Malik Imran Ahmed, country head of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 10-stick packs would undermine efforts to discourage smoking among young people and other at-risk demographics.

To deter consumption by minors and other at-risk groups, Pakistan law requires tobacco companies to sell cigarettes in packs of at least 20 cigarettes. Sales of individual sticks are permitted, however.

The rule is placing at risk a large order for PTC to deliver $20.5 million worth of cigarettes to Sudan by mid-May. The contract requires PTC to supply the cigarettes in packs of 10 sticks each. Sudan does not have minimum stick laws, according to PTC officials.

PTC has requested the government to amend the rules and limit the 10-pack selling restriction to domestic consumption, according to Tribune.

The Ministry of Health has referred the matter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to seek its input on the matter in light of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

In 2019, PTC also lost an export order due to a lack of clarity on 10-pack cigarette manufacturing. At that time, the Ministry of Commerce gave the go-ahead for exports, but the Ministry of Health objected.

PTC has been exporting cigarettes since 2019 and has earned $156 million from that business to date. In 2023, the company paid PKR148 billion ($531.35 million) in taxes, making it the country’s second-largest taxpayer after Pakistan State Oil.