ISLAMABAD: The multinational tobacco industry in Pakistan has been earning millions of rupees annually through the sale of cigarettes and other related products but was paying peanuts to the government in taxes. This is revealed in a research study, “Illicit Trade in Tobacco: A Dossier on Contributing Factors and its Global Implications,” that was conducted by the Center for Global and Strategic Studies [CGSS] to expose the connection between the alleged illicit trade and tax evasion by the multinational tobacco companies. The study said that multinational companies role in the illicit trade of cigarettes went unnoticed as they were using different tactics to influence the government and policymakers. It said the industry would engage prominent names from different sectors especially from think-tanks and media to justify lower taxes and promotion of their image among the public. The study said the companies were evading millions of rupees in taxes under a pretext of exaggerated illicit trade of the product in Pakistan, adding that wrong figures provide camouflage for advocacy groups to promote the concept of tobacco industry-friendly policies. It said that fudging of the data is a common practice the world over and Pakistan is no exception. There is consensus among experts that illicit trade should not hinder taxation and fulfill the state’s obligation under the global system. The study debunked the impression of 40 percent to 50 percent illicit trade volume in Pakistan’s tobacco industry, saying that the volume of the illicit trade was not more than 9 percent according to a survey. In Pakistan, 22 million people [30 percent male and 5 percent female] consume the tobacco-related products daily, leading to annual deaths of over 120,000 persons. The illicit tobacco trade has introduced many problems, but two aspects of them worth the attention: it hampers the efforts of governments to control the spread of consumption of tobacco and the most dangerous impact is that tobacco industry use it to advocate the lower taxes. The study said that there is no second opinion that illicit trade has negative impacts on society’s social and financial dynamics in different ways, threatening the national security as well through the tax evasion.