Matchbox manufacturers in Thoothukudi seek ban on import of cigarette lighters

According to a customs agent BM Ahamed Jan, pocket lighters, gas-fuelled lighters and refillable lighters are policy-free goods and are imported legally.

Published: 17th April 2022 08:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th April 2022 08:00 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THOOTHUKUDI: Safety matchbox manufacturers in Thoothukudi sought a ban on the import of cigarette lighters made in China stating that it affects the safety match market in the country. They met the Union Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Dr L Murugan at Virudhunagar on Saturday and urged him to take steps to ban cigarette lighters and control the price hike of raw materials.

Safety match factories have been a mainstay of the rural pockets of the Virdhunagar, Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Vellore districts in Tamil Nadu, employing over five lakh people with 90% of them being women. The industry, functioning for the past 80 years, has been in troubled waters due to the rampant hike in raw material prices in recent years.

The safety matches produced in Tamil Nadu meet 90% of the demands of the domestic market and 40% of the International market, sources said.

Following the high raw material prices and the spinning fuel price costing a toll on transport charges, the safety match manufacturers hiked the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) of each box to `2 from last December 1 — a revision made after 14 years from `1 per box. But still, the industry is unable to sustain itself, said the manufacturers.
They claimed that the import of plastic cigarette lighters had been affecting the safety match box sales in the domestic and retail markets.

National Small Match Manufacturers Association president M Paramasivam said matchboxes are predominantly purchased by cigarette smokers across the country. "However, the pocket lighters, gas-fuelled lighters and refillable lighters that are being sold widely in the market in recent years have played a spoilsport for the matchbox market," he pointed out.

According to a customs agent BM Ahamed Jan, pocket lighters, gas-fuelled lighters and refillable lighters are policy-free goods and are imported legally. It is largely imported from China at Nhava Sheva port of Mumbai, and also from Germany, he said.

Kathiravan, a safety match factory owner, said the cigarette lighters had reached the petty shops and all the cafeterias and had given a tough competition to the domestically made safety matchboxes. “The inflow of cigarette lighters has led to stagnation of the safety matchboxes. The State and Union government should check the import of the lighters from other countries, and ban them to ensure that the business of the safety matchbox factories is not affected,” he added.

When contacted, Kovilpatti MLA Kadmbur C Raju told TNIE that the cigarette lighters need to be banned in the country and the illegal import of the lighters should be checked in order to benefit the domestic market of the safety match factories. “Apart from cigarette lighters, the cost of potassium chlorate, cardboard and wax also need to be controlled. During the AIADMK rule, the state government took the issue to the Union government to reduce the GST slab from 18% to 12%,” he recalled.


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