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Press Release

Protesters locked out of hearings on ‘misguided and malign’ tobacco bill

Sunday 26 November 2023 – FURIOUS protesters are demanding greater consultation on the controversial tobacco control bill after hundreds were locked out of a public hearing today.


Placard-waving crowds demonstrated outside Tshwane House in Pretoria, accusing authorities of trying to push through draconian new laws that will enrich criminals and destroy thousands of honest jobs.


Tax Justice SA (TJSA) founder Yusuf Abramjee said: “Regulations in the bill will hand even more business to the organised crime syndicates who have seized control of South Africa’s cigarette market.


“Law-abiding citizens are justifiably angry that they cannot voice their disapproval at new regulations that will kill off the legal sector, entrench illicit trade and thereby deprive the state of vital revenue to pay for essential public services.


“Instead of hiding behind closed doors while they cook up their misguided and malign rules, MPs must be made to answer why they are happy to fuel this industrial-scale looting of the state.”


Independent international research has shown that the illicit cigarette trade is robbing Mzansi of R74 million every day. Implementation of the bill would deprive the fiscus of a further R5.5 billion a year and destroy 28,000 jobs supported by the legal sector, according to analysts Oxford Economics.


“The lockdown sales ban proved that prohibitions do not prevent smokers from smoking,” Abramjee said. “Instead of repeating the same mistakes that have cost our country billions, MPs must be forced to reconsider how they can exercise proper control over the criminals who are getting filthy rich by making and selling illicit cigarettes.


“Illicit trade is out of control. It’s not new laws that we need, it’s fearless and effective enforcement. The people must be told how that will be achieved.”