ITC not to smoke price pipe; Excise-hit fears goes up in smoke

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Chennai, Mar 7 (UNI) The hike in Excise Duty for non-filtered cigarettes in the Union Budget might have left the smokers high and dry, but India's largest tobacco manufacturers ITC has decided not to pass on the burden to the customers.

''All the brands, including filtered and non-filtered cigarettes will continue to be sold at pre-Budget rates, even after the enhanced Excise Duty,'' an ITC spokesman told UNI.

Though the normal trend every year was the tobacco companies would pass the burden on to the consumers by hiking prices, ITC this time had decided to buck the trend and absorb the costs.

''This means that all ITC cigarettes will continue to be sold at the same price even after April one,'' the official said.

Meanwhile, company official denied there was shortage of cigarette supplies to the trade.

When asked about the demand for certain brand of filter cigarettes, the official denied it.

'It's all artificially created by the trade,'' he said, and added ITC had nothing to do with the hike in prices of certain brands of cigarettes in the retail shops in the wake of the Budget.

''Some retail shops have already started selling cigarettes at old prices. I hope other shops will also follow suit,'' the official added.

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