Tobacco products’ smuggling posing serious problem, says Nirmala Sitharaman

Smuggling of tobacco products has posed a serious problem for the government as legal import of cigarettes was less than those coming in through illegal channels, Minister of State for Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday.

Sitharaman said it was a matter of concern that smuggling of tobacco products into the country was more than those coming through legal routes. “Our concern is illegal import of tobacco products.

Illegal imports are increasing. We are trying to strengthen the borders so that illegal imports can be stopped. Commerce Ministry is in regular touch with Finance Ministry under which the customs department falls,” she said during Question Hour.

The Minister said ways were being explored to completely stop tobacco production in the country and provide alternatives to the tobacco farmers.

Sitharaman said the total number of cases of smuggling of cigarettes detected by field formations of the Customs Department across the country during 2014-15 was 1312 consigments with a value of Rs 9.24 crore and during 2015-16, the number of cases was 2,731 with a value of Rs 16.16 crore.