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High taxes on legally produced cigarettes are slowly destroying the South African tobacco farming sector and everyone legally involved in the broader tobacco value chain.

Tobacco taxes account for a huge part of government revenue; but there is no evidence that higher tobacco taxes cause smokers to quit.

If anything, continued excise increases only affect the legal players, who pay their fair share of taxes and play by the rules.

Illicit players do no play by the rules and take advantage of financially stretched consumers to buy non-duty paid illicit tobacco products.

Any additional tax increase will drive even more smokers into purchasing their cigarettes from the illicit market, putting livelihoods at risk, costing taxpayers billions and undermining Government’s health objectives.

We believe Government should keep excise flat until illicit trade is no longer a problem.