Illicit tobacco trade booming

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, so too did the tobacco ban and now, small-scale tobacco farmers say illicit tobacco trade has aggressively boomed. 

Small-scale tobacco farmers say illicit trade had always haunted their business. SA Lockdown: Tobacco farmers face uncertain future

“The market share was already 42% on these criminals but now they have been given a fully 100% market share, for whose benefit?”, said tobacco farmer, Ntando Shadrack Sibisi. The ban on tobacco products has forced companies to search for new markets outside South Africa.

They say exports to neighbouring countries since the start of the ban are higher than what they’ve exported in the last five years. “The ban has failed to achieve its objective. Instead of deterring people, the study finds that 93% of the 11 million smokers continue to access their tobacco products,” said Batsa's head of external affairs, Johnny Moloto.

The fiscus is losing an estimated R35-million a day due to the ban.