Separate police operations conducted in Huye and Muhanga districts on Monday seized 5746 packets of counterfeit cigarettes said to have been smuggled into the country.
At least 5250 packets of King Premium and 144 packets of King Filter Star were recovered from two shops in Muhanga belonging to businessmen Jack Byukusenge and François Rukundakuvuga, respectively.
Other 356 packets including 208 of Premier Filter and 148 of Filter Star were confiscated in a shop in Kabutare trading centre of Ngoma Sector in Huye.
Police spokesperson for the Southern Province, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Andre Hakizimana, said that the seizure is part of the ongoing operation by the criminal investigations department against fake or counterfeit cigarettes, which bear no labels as prescribed by the national policy under the Ministry of Health.
“The cigarettes were found to have no labels and precaution warning as stipulated under the ministerial order or Rwanda Standards Board on packaging,” CIP Hakizimana said.
Although the type of seized cigarettes are not barred on Rwandan market, Hakizimana said, they should meet the set standards including labeling.
“Apart from the name of cigarette indicated on the packets, there were no other standard messages or the expiry date, and this raises question of their quality and likely extreme and immediate health complications. Actually this is one of the ill-effects of smuggling and why it is fought because smugglers are likely to bring into market substandard and harmful products,” he said.
Cigarettes allowed on the Rwandan market according to Rwanda Standards Board and the Ministry of Health, should indicate ‘For Sale in Rwanda’ and bearing the ministry’s warnings of ‘smoking kills, causes cancer, heart diseases and other health hazards such as impotent, infertility, miscarriage and stroke.’
“This is an ongoing operation conducted in conjunction with heads of district pharmacies and the public who give us information that facilitates successful operations. We appeal to those in tobacco business to mind about quality and allowed products, and be partners in fighting smuggling and fraud, through which such hazardous products are prevented,” he said.