Proposed tobacco laws may stub out branded cigarettes

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Proposed changes to South African laws regarding tobacco product packaging will play into the hands of illicit cigarette traders just as the hard lockdown ban on tobacco products did during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic response.

British American Tobacco (BAT) and other industry players said the proposed clampdown on branding of cigarettes would make price the only criterion for customers and not branding.  The changes have been put forward by the Department of Health.

The regulations proposed require no branding as one change. As a result, the industry contends, people will be buying blind, leaving legitimate producers unprotected.

The industry claims that the country suffered a R20-billion loss in tax revenues last year due to the rise of the illicit sector, which got a fillip in lockdown.

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