ISLAMABAD - The All Pakistan Cigarette, Pan and Beverages Retailers’ Association on Monday rejected the expected legislation banning the sale of open cigarettes and demanded of the prime minister to take them on board before making any legislation on the subject.

Association President Haji Mobin and other office-bearers, speaking at a press conference at the National Press Club, said that the All Pakistan Cigarette, Pan and Beverages Retailers Association was a representative body of 0.7 million people working in different shops across the country, giving their input to country’s economy and providing financial support to around 3 million people.

Haji Mobin said that any law snatching bread and butter from these workers would be injustice and would not be acceptable at all. 

He said that they had got the information that the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination was going to impose a ban on selling open cigarettes after an expected legislation. “Before making any legislation, all stakeholders are involved in the consultation process, however, the legislators and decision-makers were not taking them on board,” he said. 

He said that the association had informed health and commerce ministries and the standing committee on commerce time and again about the reservations but they did not bother to heed. 

Haji Mobin said that many customers had been used to purchasing open cigarettes for years which has tangible and genuine reasons, as customers can be too poor to buy a packet consisting of 20 cigarettes or may want to get rid of the habit and for that purpose, they purchase just one or a less number of cigarettes. “The way the government is trying to impose the ban on cigarettes would not prove fruitful but would become a cause for the increase of smokers in the society,” he said. 

He also said that keeping all the demerits of the ban, the association would like to give practical suggestions to the government. He said that they request Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to listen to the stance of the association and include them in the consultation process. He further added that they don’t believe in protests and they want that the decision-makers should also listen to their stance and then move forward after the consultation.