Tobacco firms cry foul
Tobacco companies are warning that laws such as those passed in Australia to force companies to package cigarettes in plain boxes will increase the smuggling of cigarettes.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi yesterday praised the ruling saying that South Africa would follow suit and force manufacturers to package cigarettes in drab boxes devoid of branding.
Tobacco companies, including British American Tobacco, appealed the Australian law in the High Court of Australia and argued that plain packaging violated their intellectual property rights.
They lost the case this week.
Leslie Rance, BAT SA's spokesman, implied that the tobacco company would approach the courts if a similar decision were made by the South African government.
Rance said: "We will continue to take every action necessary to protect our valuable brands and our right to compete as a legitimate commercial business selling a legal product".
He added that "plain packaging would only exacerbate an already significant illicit tobacco trafficking problem".
The CEO of The Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa, Francois van der Merwe, agreed.
"Without a means to distinguish one pack of cigarettes from another, the illicit trade in cigarettes will rapidly increase. [There will be] no means to tell a genuine pack from an illicit one," he said.