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'IPSOS poll exaggerates 'illicit cigarette' market share'

05 Apr 2019 at 16:18hrs | Views
Following the publication of an Ipsos survey on the "illegal  cigarette market" and related issues, which was carried by various South African publications, an impression was given that British American Tobacco (BAT) has been "hard-hit by illicit cigarette trade in South Africa (SA)".

Specifically, an article in the Star's Business Report on March 25 said the research had shown that: SA had become the first country... to allow an illegal cigarette brand (and Zimbabwe-linked) Gold Leaf Tobacco's RG brand to be a best-seller..." and which l believe is clearly a misrepresentation of facts.

Contrary to the suggestion, a recent Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring & Policy Research analysis of point-of-sale data shows that BAT is actually still dominating the market in terms of volumes and value.

Its Peter Stuyvesant brand, in the medium price segment, remains the most popular and had the highest volume sale in 2017/2018.

Indeed, the brand's sales volumes have declined in the corresponding period. However, another BAT brand – Benson & Hedges and categorised as "low price" - showed a 42 percent increase in volumes over the same period.

By implication, the Anglo-South African multinational's loss of market share may not necessarily be "all due to illicit trade".

Some of BAT's losses can be "attributed to increasing market share of legal, low-priced cigarette brands from transnational tobacco companies (including BAT) and local players".

Therefore, it appears the illicit-trade argument has been used - in SA and elsewhere - as a ‘straw man' to protect global companies' profit at the expense of the public's health.

In SA, about 44 000 people are reportedly dying from tobacco and smoking-related diseases each year, and it is costing the already over-burdened healthcare system about 60 billion Rand annually (Tobacco Atlas, 2018).

Interestingly, it is comparable to the estimated 13 billion Rand (https://www. collected from smokers as excise duty to the South African Revenue Service by the same industry.

And among many tactics used by the tobacco industry "to interfere with tobacco control policy processes globally" is the attempt to manipulate public opinion, which could be the aim of this "IPSOS misrepresentation about illegal cigarette brands".

We, therefore, urge South Africans to support the newly proposed Tobacco Bill, which seeks to protect - and promote - the health of all, and save lives.

Source - dailynews
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