Vaping is a big business in India.
With prices ranging from as little as 50 cents per packet to thousands of rupees per packet, it’s easy to see why.
Vaping products are made in India, but only a handful of the country’s manufacturers are permitted to export them to the U.S. In fact, the only major producer of cigarettes in the country is the Tobacco Corporation of India (TCI).
According to a 2012 study by the nonprofit Global Business Outlook, the TCI has an export license from the U, but it doesn’t have a production license.
That’s not to say that the company isn’t making money, but that’s where the industry is at right now.
“We are not a huge cigarette producer in India,” says Vinod Gupta, the CEO of Smokers Rights India, a group that helps Indian smokers get a fair deal from their tobacco companies.
As a result, Smokers Rights India has filed lawsuits against a number of cigarette companies in India and in the U.
“Some of these companies are very big, like Altria, but they do not produce a lot of cigarettes,” Gupta says.
“A lot of these tobacco companies are struggling to survive.”
The lawsuits are not only about the cigarettes themselves, but also about the money these companies make.
In India, where there are no health warnings, tobacco is the most popular and profitable form of tobacco, and the government has been working to clamp down on it.
In addition to the legal challenges, Smokes Rights India has been involved in several campaigns to make cigarettes more affordable for Indians.
For example, it has been lobbying the government to increase the price of a pack of cigarettes from $4 to $1.25.
According to the group, the price increase will help tobacco companies to reduce their tax liability by an estimated $10 billion a year.
And Gupta says that these efforts have paid off.
“We have seen a dramatic increase in sales and revenue,” he says.
Smokes Rights says that over the past decade, sales of its products in India have grown more than fivefold, from around $2 million in 2000 to nearly $50 million in 2014.
According the group’s research, the average Indian smoker buys 2,500 cigarettes a day, and Smokes Rights claims that these cigarettes are responsible for more than half of the tobacco consumption in the nation.
“It’s not about the tobacco, it is about how the cigarettes are made,” Gupta said.
In India, cigarettes are usually made in a small number of factories in small villages.
Smokers rights is hoping to change that by offering the products at a price that will appeal to the average consumer.
“When the government introduced the new taxes on tobacco and cigarettes, people said, ‘This is not fair,'” Gupta says, “but we have been able to show that the government can help people.”