The illicit trade of tobacco products is destroying the legal tobacco value chain, putting the jobs of 10 000 emerging and commercial farmers at risk, according to tobacco producers.
“Our industry is under siege from illicit traders who not only sell cheap cigarettes but also procure leaf outside our borders,” said Limpopo Tobacco Processors managing director, Christo van Staden.
According to AgriSA, tobacco volumes have already been on the decline since 2012 and, by 2016, had dropped by over 2 million tonnes.
“It will be very difficult to justify further investments in tobacco production in South Africa while volumes are in decline due to the illicit trade,” said British American Tobacco South Africa (Batsa) head of external affairs, Joe Heshu. “The illicit tobacco trade constitutes 47% of the total market and its rapid growth shows it to be a clear and direct danger to the legal industry,” he added.