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Press Release

Tax Justice SA backs #TheBanMustFall letter to President

Sunday 5 July 2020 – Tax Justice SA (TJSA) today welcomes an open letter to President Ramaphosa and his Cabinet in which tobacco industry players and retail outlets highlight the devastation caused by the 100-day-old tobacco ban and urge #TheBanMustFall.

TJSA founder Yusuf Abramjee says: “We back the letter as a timely reminder of how the lockdown tobacco ban is destroying the livelihoods of honest workers, while criminals in the illicit trade get rich.

“The ban has backfired badly. It has not stopped people smoking but instead has driven them to the black market where organised corrupt networks are making billions.

“One hundred days of the ban have already cost the national purse R3.5 billion in lost excise taxes alone. That is money desperately needed for health care, education and food for millions of South Africans who are being pushed to starvation.

“Tax Justice SA fully supports the letter’s call for the ban to be lifted immediately. And we will be joining #TheBanMustFall campaign.”

The letter, which is printed in today’s Sunday Times, says the ban is destroying lives, boosting crime and crushing South Africa’s spirit of ubuntu.

“The pain has echoed from the tobacco fields of Limpopo to the spaza shops of Soweto, Umlazi and the Cape Flats,” the letter states.

“Proud factory workers, truck drivers and store staff are being denied the ability to put bread on the table, shoes on the feet of their children, schoolbooks in their bags and a safe roof over their heads.”

The letter is accompanied by a graphic image showing that the R3.5 billion excise taxes lost in 100 days could have paid for:

  • Two new hospitals and 5,000 ventilators
  • 54 new schools
  • The salaries of 25,000 nurses, 5,000 doctors, and 20,000 primary school teachers
  • 8,045 new affordable homes
  • 23 million food parcels for the poor