Nation Current Affairs 04 Nov 2016 Bengaluru: Taxes too ...

Bengaluru: Taxes too taxing for local cigarette brands

Published Nov 4, 2016, 3:19 am IST
Updated Nov 4, 2016, 7:15 am IST
The taxes on tobacco products were being increased every budget keeping in mind the health hazards.
 The taxes on tobacco products were being increased every budget keeping in mind the health hazards.

Bengaluru: The smuggling of foreign cigarettes into the city has increased following a steep rise in prices of tobacco products announced in the budgets over the last couple of years. The taxes on tobacco products were being increased every budget keeping in mind the health hazards.

As a result Gold Flake Kings, a prominent Indian brand, now costs around Rs 12 per stick, while smuggled foreign cigarettes are sold as cheap as Rs 5 per stick. A 20-unit pack of a foreign brand costs around Rs 100, whereas regular Indian ones are sold at Rs 250. These foreign brands are also easily available in most places.

Foreign cigarette brands such as Gudang Garam, Esse Lights and Dunhill are smuggled through air routes as well, but the smugglers prefer sea route, said a custom official.

It might be recalled that in January this year, the customs officials at Kempegowda International airport destroyed confiscated cigarettes weighing 2.70 tonnes, valued at Rs 4.49 crore, seized during several occasions from passengers. Officials make regular seizure of cigarettes which are attempted to be smuggled into the city by passengers.

It was also stated that during the financial year (Apr 2015 - March 2016) customs officers of the Kempegowda International Airport destroyed seized cigarette consignments weighing 7.27 tonnes, valued at Rs 7.41 crore.

Officials from the customs stated that Gulf destinations such as Dubai and Muscat continue to be the main source of cigarette smuggling along with Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Majority of cigarette smuggling happens through sea route, as air passengers are allowed to carry only a carton of 200 sticks per head.

Most of the consignments are sourced to Mumbai port, from where they are ferried to different parts of the country, including Bengaluru, an official stated. The highest number of cigarette hauls is reported from Mumbai ports, the official added.

In one of the cases, cigarettes were concealed behind gypsum slabs that were used as false ceiling in a container. Customs officials at the port suspected something amiss and checked it to find smuggled foreign cigarettes.

With the government frequently increasing taxes on locally made cigarettes the price of imported and the local varieties are almost the same, said an official. Taxation on local cigarettes is directly proportional to the smuggling of foreign cigarettes, he added. Smokers too prefer foreign cigarettes for their quality, reduced prices and easy availability.

Location: India, Karnataka, Bengaluru


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