Illicit, Illegal or Smuggled Tobacco Products in Pakistan – Deconstructing Tobacco Industry’s Narratives

Event details

  • Thursday | 16 Sep, 2021
  • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
  • Islamabad

Illicit, illegal, counterfeit, and smuggled tobacco products undermine the national pricing policies, and deprive the government from much needed revenue. Illicit/illegal or counterfeit products may include the products which has been manufactured to evade taxes and GHW/PHW or the textual warning, manufacturer’s identification, underage sale prohibition warning and retails price are missing besides other factors. Such products create opportunities for the TI to subvert the national and international cooperation in tobacco control and more dangerously undermine the health-related policies and efforts such as GHW and sales to the minors. WHO (2014) also claims that the illicit and counterfeit production of the tobacco products may be carried out by legal manufacturers who declare only a fraction of their production to the tax authorities or by unlicensed manufacturers. The production and marketing of the illicit tobacco/black-market cigarettes by the TI has been well documented during a raid in Mandra on the undeclared warehouse in a former factory owned by Philip Morris (Down & Cheema, 2020). Consequently, on one the hand TI is crying foul against those producing counterfeits and cheap products, while they have been found complicit in black-market trade of their own products, on the other. For the past many years, TI has been successful in (mis)guiding the government to believe that there is a rampant presence of illicit tobacco products in Pakistan, which accounts for up to 44% of the market share. There is thus a pressing need to deconstruct this claim and make recommendations to the policy circles against such claims. The panel intends to delve upon the following aspects:

1. TI been successful in convincing the government that the illicit trade is rampant in Pakistan, masking their own involvement in the process, and has prevented any further taxes on tobacco products.

2. What role the tobacco advocates can play in countering this narrative and informing the government about the health implications and the role played by TI in illicit/illegal tobacco products.


Down, A., & Cheema, U. (2020). Pakistan’s Big Tobacco Problem. OCCRP. Retrieved on Aug 14. from

WHO. (2014). The illicit trade in tobacco products. Retrieved on Aug 14. from


Moderator: Mr. Syed Ali Wasif Naqvi, Senior Research Associate, SDPI
- Mr. Waseem Janjua, Senior Researcher, SDPI
- Mr. Shahzad Alam Khan, National Professional Office WHO, Pakistan
- Mr. Muhammad Sabir, Principal Economist, SPDC
- Mr. Khurram Hashmi, Country Lead, The Union
- Dr. Amina Khan, Executive Director, The Initiative
- Dr. Karam Elahi, Additional Collector Pakistan Customs, FBR

Meeting Link:


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