Shop keepers in Lahore have increased the prices of both local and imported (duty-free) cigarettes amid a 14-day lockdown in Punjab.
According to a report by a local media outlet, shop owners are now operating from homes owing to the closure of markets. In an interview with the media, one of the shopkeepers stated that a “danda” (pack of 10 cigarettes) of “Benson Double O” was available at Rs. 1,950 but now it is being sold at Rs. 2,300 to Rs. 2,500.
Similarly, Dunhill Lights was available at Rs. 1,950 and it is now being sold at Rs. 2,600 while L&M Lights is being sold at Rs. 900 against the previous rate of Rs 700.
In the imported range, there are three most popular brands among others and their prices are likely to go up further because of limited supply in the market, he added.
Marlboro Lights imported price has also gone up from Rs. 270 to Rs. 310-Rs. 320 per pack.
The price of L&M Lights is likely to increase sharply in the coming days since many people had switched to this brand after the price for a single pack of Benson Double O, and Dunhill Lights reached Rs. 300 or above.
Shop owners are now also offering free home delivery services but with a minimum order of Rs 1,000 or so.
In the local range, Capstan and John Players Gold Leaf are two highly demanded brands. Now a danda of Capstan is being sold at Rs. 850 against the previous rate of Rs. 767 while Gold Leaf is available at Rs. 2,000 instead of Rs. 1,700.
A number of traders are of the view that the closure of shops by the government was not a good decision as a large population is addicted to paan and smoking and restricting or banning access to these items is not possible.
Small-scale traders are also compelled to sell the available stock at surging rates “because they too have families to feed”.
They explained that in case of closure of one shop or another, a smoker or paan addict won’t stop his search for his desired item until he/she gets it. Similarly, an addict also does not bother how much he/she is spending in case of shortage of the product, they added.