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Fighting the black market

Illegal tobacco trade is not only a threat to our business, but also a more serious national and social threat: that of organised crime

For BAT South Africa, protecting consumers and the business from the illegal tobacco trade is imperative. Doing so not only helps to address a significant threat to the viability of our business (and industry), but also a more serious national and social threat to South Africa: organised crime and corruption.

For a long time, the issue of illegal trade was known only to those in the tobacco industry – those whose very businesses and livelihoods were being impacted by the decline in sales of legal cigarettes: legal manufacturers, farmers, and processors.

Through various memberships in business, trade and industry organisations, BAT South Africa supports efforts being carried out by the various organisations and formations, to raise awareness of the threat and impact of illegal trade.

TISA, of which BAT South Africa is a member, has worked hard to facilitate a multi-faceted approach to raising awareness of and tackling the illegal tobacco trade in South Africa. Central to this approach has been to commission independent, verified and legitimate research into illegal trade in South Africa, as a means to authoritatively talk about the size and scale of this black market.

In July 2018, TISA released the first-ever South African Tobacco Market Study, conducted independently by respected research house Ipsos. The report found that the 33% of all cigarettes sold in South Africa were illegal. Three months later, an updated Ipsos study revealed that this market share had grown by almost a quarter, and now stands at 42%.

Keeping our own house in order

BAT South Africa’s approach to fighting the black market in tobacco includes:

  • Effective internal governance and supply chain security
  • Informing regulators about the impact of the illegal tobacco trade
  • Engaging stakeholders and regulatory bodies to increase understanding of the issue
  • Raising awareness of the issue among our employees, business partners and the public.

BAT South Africa fully supports any action taken by the South African Police Service, SARS, the Southern African Customs Union, and other national and international bodies to curtail the illegal tobacco trade. Where authorities request information or help from us, we will gladly assist.

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