Local cigarette manufacturers have launched illegal cigarette promotion campaigns to encourage young people to smoke, committing clear violations of the Ministry of Health’s advertising laws on cigarettes. According to the details, the Ministry of Health’s Tobacco Advertising Guideline 2009 prohibits the advertising of cigarette packs and no cigarette company can offer free cigarette reward schemes, cash prizes or usage of images of an animal or human element to sell cigarette brands.
Recently, local cigarette companies are violating the rules in the market and posters of free items, cash prizes, free cigarettes, discounts, etc. are being hung in the market. But interestingly all anti-tobacco NGOs have reportedly remained silent on these violations.
According to a former high official of the Ministry of Health, 4-5 years ago only three or four anti-tobacco NGOs were working on anti-tobacco issues. But surprisingly, in the last few years, dozens of NGOs have been registered that started working on the anti-tobacco agenda.
He further said that if we analyze the working of these NGOs, we will see there are many NGOs among them that are registered only in the documents. But these single room NGOs are reportedly receiving millions of rupees funding from some unregistered international organizations as well as from front-men of alleged cigarette manufacturers.
Detailed analysis of working of these NGOs clearly depicts that the targeted technical events and regular media statements are protecting only the tax-related interests of tax evading cigarette sector. Surprisingly none of these single room NGOs have highlighted the blatant violations of advertising and marketing laws by local cigarette manufacturers, he added.