When Preetam Had an Encounter with Fake Tobacco
Preetam looks after the sales and marketing division of his company. He is a keen observer and has a good eye for detail.
He likes taking strolls and usually pays a close attention to his surroundings. The small stall outside his office is his usual habitat during teatime where he often lays his hands on snacks for tiny munching.
Now, in one of his daily trips to the stall, he noticed two tobacco boxes. The unusual thing about them was the significant differences in the two of them which caught his attention.
Out of curiosity, he took both the cans and noticed some very important differences. Both of them belonged to the same brand but had a price difference of Rs.20. The warning picture/label on both of them was different too.
This created a lot of doubt in Preetam’s mind and as he was about to ask the shopkeeper when he overheard him saying to one of his friends that one of out of them is real and the other is a counterfeit and he can bet that nobody can identify which one of them is which.
Preetam was shocked. He got really concerned for the consumers as he heard a lot about negative effects of counterfeit tobacco. To make his next move and get this in the notice of the manufacturers and the concerned authorities, he needed proof.
He immediately purchased both the boxes and returned home. He opened the boxes and smelled it. There was a considerable dissimilarity in the aroma of both of them.
Out of concern, he called up the manufacturer and intimated them about the selling of fake tobacco on their name. The company personnel was glad to be informed of the same and assured that they would take necessary actions.
The problem of counterfeit tobacco is huge. One person or one manufacturer alone really cannot fight against it. There needs to be an effective strategy involving the government, manufacturers and the sellers.
The tobacco industry incurred a loss of Rs. 131.3 billion in FY 2013-2014. The government incurred a total tax loss of Rs. 62.4 billion in the year 2012 owing to counterfeiting in this industry.
The health hazard that emerges from counterfeited tobacco (nicotine products) is multiple times higher than the original tobacco products. The sale of counterfeit tobacco products has not only increased proportionately but has exceeded the sales of original ones.
Now, you can imagine how adversely it can affect the bodies of consumers.
(Based on inputs from Preetam Kumar Nainam, Resident, Ahmedabad, Gujarat)