700 000 illegal cigarettes seized

2012-03-22 11:33

The Tobacco Institute of South Africa (Tisa) seized about 700 000 contraband cigarettes across the country this month.

“Illegal traders are costing the country as much as R4 billion in excise duties and VAT not paid,” Tisa chief executive Francois van der Merwe said in a statement today.

“It is also crippling the legal tobacco industry as the illegal cigarettes are mostly sold at prices that do not even cover the taxes.”

Because of this, the industry’s volumes had declined by more than 30% in the past 10 years, he said. “This had resulted in the closure of factories and job losses.”

On March 6, the SA Revenue Service seized more than 240 000 contraband cigarettes in Cape Town while 250 000 were seized in Durban. In Gauteng, 170 000 cigarettes were confiscated.

Van der Merwe said people buying these cigarettes were supporting crime. “This is money that could be spent on education, poverty alleviation as well as much-needed infrastructure development.

“Consumers looking to save money by purchasing cheaper and often illicit cigarettes are unwittingly supporting crime.

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