Privilege Motion Submitted Against a Senator for Giving Away Free Cigarette Packs

A Privilege Motion has been submitted by Senator Islam Uddin Shakih against a Senator who is accused of breaching the privilege of the Senate. According to a report, a number of people during the Parliament session of 24th July 2020 started giving free gifts of certain cigarette packs by the name of “Senate House” that violates 5 laws.

This act of gifting cigarette packs was violative of various laws in Pakistan with multiple penalties.

The cigarette packets titled “Senate House” were distributed among senators last week.

According to the reports, these cigarette packets have been specially prepared by the Senator, who happens to be a local cigarette manufacturer and were given for free to different senators. These packets are designed with no health warning and with the “Government of Pakistan” emblem on the top and “Senate House” written below.

According to the Prohibition of Smoking in Enclosed Places and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance 2002, free gifts of cigarette packs are strictly prohibited. These packs were distributed in complete violation of the law and this act is liable to be penalized, said the notice.

Cigarettes (Printing of Warning) Ordinance 1979, and Prohibition of Sale of Cigarettes to Minors Rules 2010 mandate the printing of health warnings on the front and back of every pack as well as under 18 years sale prohibition. The health warning covers 60% of the pack’s front and back.

The packs that were gifted did not have any warning and therefore liable to be penalized as contained in the said laws, including imprisonment which can be extended up to 2 years together with fine.

The packs that were gifted had the official insignia of Pakistan, which can only be printed by any person under the written approval of the Competent Authority, as required under the provisions of Pakistan taxed on the violator. Even otherwise, the exception of printing the insignia on the cigarette packs under the Federal Excise Act 2005 is only limited to the President and Governors.

The notice further read that the manufacturers of cigarettes are required under the Federal Excise to print retail price, health warning, and the manufacturer’s name on all packs manufactured by them. If these are not printed, the Excise law prescribes heavy penalties on violators including confiscation and destruction of machinery on which such packs are made.

The packs presented as gifts failed to comply with any restriction mandated by the Federal Excise laws and therefore liable to be penalized.