British American Tobacco SA (BATSA) is calling for a pack of cigarettes to retail at a minimum price of R28. This recommendation forms part of the latest efforts to fight the illicit tobacco trade.
BATSA issued a statement on Wednesday addressing the concerns of what the research, which was conducted by Ipsos, unveiled. According to Fin24, the survey showed that packs of 20 cigarettes were retailing for less than the minimum collectible tax amount of R21.60 as the cheapest pack of 20 only cost R6.
This comes after more than 4,200 retailers were surveyed.
“In three of the nine provinces in South Africa, purchases at R21.60 and below, occurred at more than 50% of the retail stores sampled,” the report read. The three provinces cited are the Free State, the Western Cape and Gauteng.
According to the report, manufacturer Gold Lead Tobacco Corporation’s brands were among those manufacturers who were selling cigarettes below the taxable amount.
“There was a general increase in the number of sample stores that stock non-South African brands from neighbouring countries, when compared with the previous study, pointing to an influx of foreign brands into the market,” the report read.
As TimesLive reports, BATSA general manager Johnny Moloto said the research was “damning proof that authorities have failed to bring SA’s colossal criminal market in cigarettes under control”.
“Tax-evading manufacturers who exploited last year’s lockdown ban are now running rampant and costing South Africans huge sums of money at a time when every cent is a lifesaver. It is nothing short of a national emergency that demands a full-scale inquiry into the whole industry,” he said.
“The bulk of the illicit tobacco problem in SA clearly has local origins, as the report demonstrates. It demands justice and that necessitates an immediate commission of inquiry into the tobacco market in SA,” Moloto added.