South Africa: The Tobacco Industry's Hypocrisy On Illicit Trade

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analysis

The tobacco industry has used the illicit tobacco trade - a problem it has itself fuelled - as an argument to rally against South Africa's tobacco ban. This is a clear example of the industry's deceitfulness and focus on profit at any cost to health.

South Africa's lockdown period in response to the Covid-19 pandemic included a temporary ban on the sale of tobacco and alcohol products. South Africa was one of a handful of countries to take such measures. The tobacco industry has been highly critical of the ban, with large companies like British American Tobacco South Africa (Batsa), Phillip Morris South Africa (PMSA), and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) as well as smaller local tobacco companies urging the government to reverse the ban while instituting legal actions against it.

In addition to claiming that the ban would force consumers to defy the lockdown, and damage the state budget, Batsa, JTI, PMSA and The South Africa Tobacco Transformation Alliance (of which Batsa is a member), have argued that the ban will increase South Africa's illicit tobacco trade. The illicit tobacco trade can be defined as any practice prohibited by law which relates to the production, shipment, receipt, possession or distribution,...

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