• July 24, 2024

Pakistan Urged to Block Small Pack Exports

 Pakistan Urged to Block Small Pack Exports
Image: Maksym Kapliuk

The African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) has urged Pakistan to prevent British American Tobacco from exporting cigarettes in packs of 10 sticks to Sudan, reports The Independent.

Pakistan prohibits the sale of cigarettes in such packs on its domestic market. BAT subsidiary Pakistan Tobacco Co. (PTC) has asked the government to make an exemption for a large order from Sudan, which permits the sale of 10-stick packs on its territory.

In its statement, the ATCA urged the Pakistani government to reject PTC’s request, emphasizing the need to protect children from the dangers of smoking.

According to the ATCA, the 20-cigarette per-pack rule is the global standard for the protection of children. Because packs with fewer than 20 cigarettes are less expensive, the argument goes, it is more likely that underage buyers will purchase them. The ATCA refers to such packs as “kiddie packs.”

At least 82 countries have laws requiring a minimum of 20 cigarettes a pack.

“BAT is pushing you to change regulations so that it can manufacture 10-stick cigarette packs and export them to Sudan, the ATCA wrote in its letter to the government of Pakistan. “However, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in its Article 16 calls on parties to prohibit the sale of cigarettes in small packets, which increases the affordability of such products to minors. Consequently, Pakistan as a party to the convention should not allow manufacturing of 10-stick cigarette packs.”

The organization condemned BAT’s explanation that the 10-stick packs will be sold only in Sudan, noting that if the tobacco giant is allowed to succeed with this plan in Sudan, other African countries would be next. “It is unconscionable that BAT thinks it is ok to change a law on one continent in order to target vulnerable populations on another,” ATCA wrote.

“In Sudan and other countries in Africa, people need food, medicine and other lifesaving supports. What they do not need is kiddie packs of cigarettes that put them at increased risk of tobacco addiction, diseases and death. And we know that once BAT gets kiddie packs into one country, they will make their way across Africa.”