Smuggled ‘smoke’ killing tobacco sector
Written by Millennium on May 20, 2019
NOEL IYOMBWA writes
SMUGGLED cigarettes have continued to be on the Zambian market depriving the country of revenue, Roland Imperial Tobacco has said.
Development, planning and communications manager Ephraim Mwenda has said illegal cigarettes had continued to enter the country.
Mr Mwenda said even if there was nothing wrong with the products coming from other countries, foreign cigarette companies did not abide by local laws.
He was speaking during the launch of a sensitisation campaign in Lusaka at the weekend.
Mr Mwenda said some cigarette companies did not obey by-laws in terms of taxes and sold their products at uncompetitive prices against local companies.
The practice resulted in the illegal products eating in the market share of the local firms.
He said the campaign was aimed at sensitising people on the importance of supporting local products and not illicit products that were coming into the country.
Mr Mwemda urged the Zambia Bureau of Standards to support the ‘Buy Zambian’ campaign.
He said there was loss of revenue by ZRA because of the illegal products on the market.
There was no problem in terms of competing with imports but there was need for high-level protection of local products so that the industry continued to thrive.
Mr Mwenda said according to the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa, Zambia was losing more than K50 million annually through the smuggling and trade of illegal cigarettes.
The scourge, he said, was undermining the tobacco industry’s efforts to contribute significantly to the national budget and help boost foreign reserves.
Mr Mwenda said the illegal products did not contain the appropriate health risk warnings about cigarette consumption and the age restriction on the packaging.
Illegal cigarettes were not hygienic and did not have ZRA seals as proof of tax payment.
Mr Mwenda appealed to consumers and the general public to play a role in safeguarding the local tobacco industry and public health.
“The ‘United against Illegal Cigarettes’ campaign was therefore calling for a proactive approach from the authorities and the general public in curbing the scourge.
Trading and smuggling of illegal cigarettes pose a risk of confiscation of the products, payments of fines and imprisonment, or both,” he said.
Zambian has been grappling with an influx of smuggled cigarrets.