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South Africa

Plain cigarette packaging increases motivation to quit, says anti-smoking group

The National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) believes that the stripping of cigarette package branding, directly affects the the sale of the tobacco products.

NCAS Executive Director, Yussuf Saloojee says that a case study in Australia proves that plain packaging is effective in reducing the rate of smoking.

According to Saloojee, Australia introduced the plain packaging laws in 2012 and tobacco usage has fallen to its lowest levels.

Plain packaging increases the motivation of smokers to stop smoking and deters young people from starting.

— Dr Yussuf Saloojee, NCAS Executive Director

Saloojee suggests that current packaging in South Africa entices impressionable youth into believing that smoking is a ‘glamorous’ thing to do.

He says that the cigarette industry spends excessive amounts of money trying to sell their brand and promote the habit to young people.


SA set to join global plain cigarette packaging trend

THE South African Government is preparing a Draft Bill to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products. The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) welcomes this stand against tobacco use.

The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) supports the call from the Secretariat of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that requires tobacco products to have plain packaging and graphic warning signs.

The purpose of plain packaging is to make tobacco products less attractive by preventing its use for advertising. Graphic warnings will show the harmful effects of smoking.

Plain packaging restricts the use of logos, colours, brand images and promotional information. The UK, Northern Ireland and France have all passed laws enforcing plain packaging as from May 2016.

CANSA also points out that that tobacco consumption in Australia decreased by 13 percent since plain packaging was introduced three years ago – a strong indication that it helps to reduce smoking.

Protecting public health

In a 2015 news release, the WHO confirmed that there was a worldwide decline in the use of tobacco and an increase in numbers of non-smokers. Governments were however urged to intensify their action to dramatically reduce consumption of tobacco products in order to protect public health.

In 2016, the European Court of Justice, based in Luxembourg approved sweeping new rules requiring plain cigarette packs, banning menthol cigarettes and regulating theelectronic cigarette market.

Problems caused by smoking

Tobacco originated in the Americas, and the first European to discover smoking was Christopher Columbus. By the 1600s the use of tobacco had spread across Europe and the British Isles.

The “active” ingredient in tobacco is nicotine which is a highly addictive drug. Withdrawal from nicotine can cause anxiety, depression and irritation, headaches and sleep problems.

Smoking lowers life expectancy, and the following are some of the most common examples of diseases/problems caused by smoking:

· Lung cancer

· Other types of cancer

· Blindness, cataracts and macular degeneration

· Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

· Heart disease

· Stroke

· Asthma

· Reproductive problems

· Premature birth

· Diabetes

According to the American Lung association each year more than 480 000 people directly or indirectly die from tobacco use, which makes it the number one cause of preventable death in the US.

In the 1960s, almost half of the US population were smoking, but more than a decade earlier important studies started appearing in the medical literature highlighting the dangers of smoking.

The 1964, the Surgeon General’s report and subsequent others made the public aware of the dangers of smoking, and despite efforts by the tobacco industry to keep its clients, the percentage of Americans who smoke dropped from 42 percent in 1964 (at its peak) to 18% in 2014.

The situation in South Africa:

According to a study published in the South African Medical Journal (2010) smoking causes an estimated eight percent of adult deaths in South Africa.

There has been a drop in the prevalence of smoking which has been mainly attributed to sharp increases in cigarette prices. Cessation rates have however, remained low.

Elize Joubert, CANSA’s CEO, reports that the South African Government is preparing a Draft Bill to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products and that CANSA welcomes the stand the country is taking against tobacco use.

In a recent paper, Professor Gerard Hastings, a tobacco control researcher from the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Sterling confirms that according to studies plain packaging reduces appeal of tobacco products, especially among young adults.

Joubert adds that cigarette smoking isn’t the only harmful way of using tobacco, and that hubbly bubblies, e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco like snuff and chewing-tobacco are also bad for one’s health.

She concludes by warning smokers against subjecting other people to second-hand smoke, which is also harmful. CANSA encourages people to reduce their cancer risk by quitting smoking and enjoy the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.


Investor mixes tobacco with lung clinics

A South African investment group has been strongly criticised for maintaining a controlling stake in a Swiss private hospital group, which treats patients for lung diseases, whilst at the same time investing funds in a tobacco firm.

The Swiss Lungenliga, an association that campaigns against the tobacco industry, has questioned whether the Hirslanden Group of private clinics is free to take an active stand against smoking while it is under the control of the investment vehicle Remgro.

Remgro is controlled by the South African Rupert family which initially made its money from tobacco and currently holds a stake in British American Tobacco, makers of the Lucky Strike and Parisienne cigarette brands. Since 2007, Remgro has owned Hirslanden’s parent company Mediclinic International.

“I find it extremely disturbing when such opposing interests are housed under the same roof,” Swiss Lungenliga director Sonja Bietenhard told the Nordwestschweiz newspaper. “I find it cynical and an ethical contradiction of the highest level.”

“Can [Hirslanden] fully engage in [helping people] stop smoking? Can it continue to criticise tobacco manufacturers? These are the questions I would like answered.”

Both Hirslanden and Remgro have declined to comment to the media. In 2007, shortly after taking over Mediclinic, the Mediclinic Chairman Edwin Hertzog told the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper: “Smoking is a matter of personal choice.”

Smoking-related deaths

There is evidence that Hirslanden has continued to speak out against smoking since Remgro took over in 2007. For example, Karl Klingler, a specialist at Hirslanden’s lung clinic in Zurich penned a media article in 2012 with the headline “Stopping Smoking is the Best Medicine”. The article spelled out the health risks of smoking.

Since 1998, Hirslanden has run a clinic in Zurich with the express aim of helping people to quit smoking. That clinic is still operational.

But this has not assuaged the concerns of Lungenliga’s Bietenhard, who believes commercial interests have overridden health and ethical considerations. “From an economic perspective, I have some understanding for the investor who is only interested in making money,” she said ironically.

Last November, the Swiss health ministry produced a study on cancer that revealed that 9,500 people died of smoking-related illnesses in 2012, a figure that made up 15% of all recorded deaths in the country in that year.

While the number of deaths linked to tobacco products declined 13% in men between 1995 and 2012, the corresponding mortality rate of women rose 58%, the study revealed.

At the same time as the report’s publication, Health Minister Alain Berset put forward proposals to ban tobacco sales to under-18s and place restrictions of tobacco advertising. On May 1, 2010 Switzerland imposed a ban on smoking in public places to protect non-smokers from the effects of passive smoking.

Ethiopia: Smoke Screen – Companies Secretively Scramble for Tobacco Monopoly

By Dawit Endeshaw and Solina Alemayehus

Philip Morris, British American, Japan International and Sheba will all put forward bids this week.

International tobacco firms are gearing up for some hefty competition, as the auction of 40pc of the National Tobacco Enterprise’s (NTE) shares is scheduled for May 19, 2016.

Three of the largest international players in the 500 billion pound tobacco industry – a group that controls roughly a third of the global market share – have their legal teams in Addis, to ready their bids.

Ethiopia, as a gateway to East Africa, represents a growing, youthful population, with increasing disposable income, is an attractive proposition,” explained a local industry veteran. This is not lost on the competitors.

The NTE has been having countless meetings and receiving visits from representatives of Philip Morris International Inc (PMI), British American Tobacco (BAT) and Japan Tobacco International (JTI). The Enterprise imports and packages BAT’s Rothmans and PMI’s Marlboro for the Ethiopian market.

These, as well as some locals, have been requesting information. Guna Trading Plc, one of the companies under the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), has also knocked on the Enterprise’s door.

British American is a multinational company that sold 158 billion cigarettes last quarter, with its revenue growing at an average annual rate of 5.4pc. Almost 30pc of this comes from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, through its affiliates in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

In addition to acquiring local legal firm Kumilachew Dagnew Law Office, the company has sent its legal teams from Nairobi, West Africa and the UK. It has also acquired the services of international law firm, Addleshaw Goddard LLP, and investment consultants, Ernst & Young.

Phillip Morris owns seven of the world’s 15 top selling brands. Its quarterly sales of 209.8 billion cigarettes represented a 2.4pc decrease from the previous quarter. However, with three affiliates on the continent, in Senegal, Mali and South Africa, its African market share is showing an annual growth rate of 0.3pc.

In what some have deemed a lobbying gesture, the company recently donated half a million dollars to the Ethiopian Red Cross Society’s drought response.

The third multinational bidder, JTI, known globally for brands Winston, Camel, and Benson & Hedges, is the Japanese version of the NTE. Its total shipment volume grew by 7.1pc to 94.4 billion cigarettes in the last quarter. The company has seven affiliates in Africa, including Sudan, South Africa and Nigeria.

As interest in tobacco wanes elsewhere – in the US alone the proportion of adults who smoke has dropped from 43pc to 18pc in 50 years – Africa has become the new frontier.

“Shares in the NTE would be a way to cement their presence in the region,” the veteran commented. “And, for PMI, a way to create one.”

But the fields are not all green.

Government made a point of restricting any bidder from having majority shares. Sheba Investment Group, the only other shareholder so far, will only bid for half of the shares on offer, since it already owns 29.05pc of the Enterprise.

The government’s decision to sell only 40pc of the share is puzzling, seeing that health and environmental concerns could have been addressed by existing regulatory measures. If business is what they were after, they could have simply continued with their current holdings, the veteran opined.

Established with paid up capital of 50,000 Maria Theresa dollars during the imperial regime in 1935, the Enterprise was originally named the “Imperial Ethiopian Tobacco Monopoly”. It became a share company in 1999, following the EPRDF-led government’s expressed intention to privatise public owned enterprises.

Over the past five years, the annual turnover of the Enterprise has increased – on average by 190 million Br a year. It offers five brands – Nyala, Gissila, Elleni, Delight and Nyala Premium. Last year, the Enterprise registered 1.76 billion Br in sales, while collecting 394 million Br of profit. It now produces nine billion units of these cigarettes a year – a 50pc increase from four years ago.

BAT is known for five global brands, and had a stock price of 120.57 dollars as of May 13, 2016. PMI, with 15 international brands, is trading at 100.86 dollars per stock, While JT is going for 4,511.00 Japanese Yen on May 13, 2016.

Someone close to the process described the secrecy surrounding the bid as a smoky environment, where bidders were keen to keep a low profile. The giants, however, were too big to hide and there is some speculation about what may happen under the table.

But the bidders have major concerns.

The most obvious one is the limitation on the number of shares any single entity can own. The 40pc cap makes the potential owners of the NTE wary of the representation they will have on the board, which affects their decision-making abilities and the amount of power they will have over the Enterprise.

They are obliged to continue with the existing cigarette brands, and decisions like capital increase can only be made via consensus.

“The government did not want to be outvoted, it wanted to retain veto power,” one representative said. “But I doubt that it considered that it has also given the other members the power to veto any decision the government will try to make.”

The bidders are moving forward with the hope that there will eventually be the opportunity to transfer shares.

A source from the NTE has expressed concern that these companies may risk the fate of the 5,000 permanent and temporary staff.

The veteran disagrees.

“Since most are bidding in the hope of a future where more shares will come up for sale,” he opined. “They will most probably try to keep in the government’s good graces until then.”

Accessing growers of tobacco could prove challenging due to cultural differences, Getu Alemayehu, the public relations head at the NTE shared his concerns. The Enterprise already imports more than 50pc.

Another concern is the monopoly. The law on tobacco and the tender dictate a continuation of the monopoly for at least ten years, with no established upper limit.

“They shouldn’t worry about that,” the veteran added, “a decade is enough time to cement their market presence.”

Criticism was also directed at the NTE for being unprepared. Staff held back or did not have the necessary documentation, participants claimed, while others even gave away papers they were not supposed to.

Another concern is with the process. After the competition, the winning company is required to pay all the money up front. The parties will sign the agreements, then go to the Ministry of Trade and the Competition Authority. Both refer to the investment law, which clearly states that investment in tobacco is not for foreign investors. There is no guarantee that they will accept the merger.

The real challenge will come later, one lawyer predicted. From his observation, neither the Ministry of Trade nor the Public Enterprises legal team is fit to handle a merger of this size and complexity.

“I expect the worst during negotiations with them,” he said.

Tobacco firm ‘paid bribes’ to wreck health treaty

THE Serious Fraud Office is investigating British American Tobacco (BAT) over alleged corruption after documents and secret tape recordings were passed to its staff in Kenya and South Africa.

The company, whose brands include Benson & Hedges, Dunhill and Lucky Strike, was allegedly involved in bribing politicians and government officials from at least five African nations in a covert campaign to undermine a United Nations public health treaty.

Kenya’s anti-corruption commission said last week it was working with the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and Britain’s National Crime Agency to investigate alleged “bribery and tax evasion”.

It is understood that officials are also examining claims that payments were made by a BAT intelligence unit in London to a network of people in Africa, including police officers, to disrupt the activities of commercial rivals

British American Tobacco accused of corporate espionage in South Africa

Fresh international accusations emerge against tobacco giant

Lawyers investigating bribery and corruption allegations against one of the world’s leading tobacco firms have been urged to expand their investigation after fresh international accusations emerged.

British American Tobacco, BAT, has been accused of corporate espionage against rival cigarette makers in South Africa.

According to court documents seen by The Independent on Sunday, two former police officers who went to work for private corporate investigation companies paid cash to South African law enforcement officials to disrupt BAT’s competitors’ business operations.

The accusations have been made in court documents filed by a body representing small local tobacco producers in a complaint to the South African government’s Competition Commission. The affidavits say BAT officials instructed the men to disrupt rivals’ trade by falsely suggesting they were marketing and selling cigarettes unlawfully. The aim, often successful, was to get rivals’ stock impounded and discourage wholesalers from dealing with rival firms.

The South African claims follow bribery allegations, first revealed by the IoS and the BBC, in a dossier of claims passed to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office by Paul Hopkins, a BAT whistleblower who worked in Africa for BAT for 13 years before being made redundant.

Mr Hopkins – responsible for stopping the illicit tobacco trade in East and Central Africa – said he facilitated payments on BAT’s account to cripple anti-smoking laws in several East African countries, payments to officials to undermine efforts by the World Health Organisation to reduce deaths from smoking, ran a corporate spying operation, and conducted “black ops” to put rivals out of business.

After his claims, members of the US Congress called for a Department of Justice investigation.

Last week Nicandro Durante, head of BAT, announced that the lawyers Linklaters had been appointed by the firm to investigate the corruption allegations in East Africa. BAT’s critics said last night that this investigation should be extended to cover the fresh South African claims as well.

BAT insists the company does not “tolerate corruption in our business anywhere in the world” and says its policy “is to take all appropriate action” on any allegation.

Plain Packaging – International Overview

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Public smoking may be banned in SA: Health Minister–20151022

South Africans will not be allowed to smoke in public anywhere in the country if Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has his way. The Minister says government will soon introduce a total ban on smoking and advertising of tobacco and alcohol in the country.

Motsoaledi was speaking at the launch of a 24 hour health TV channel in Alexandra, north of Johannesburg. The new channel, The Goodlife Network, goes live on air on December 1 this year.

Motsoaledi says smoking increases diseases and puts the health system under pressure with more patients needing care when they could have prevented it.

“We are going to ban total smoking in public areas. At the moment we have put a corner in restaurants, a corner at the airport, “stupidly” even a corner at the hospital. I’m saying “stupidly” because we are outright stupid to accept that as human beings why should there be a corner for anybody to smoke in the hospital when we know the dangers. So there is going to be no corner anywhere in any public place, that is our space all of us”, says Motsoaledi.

SA economy losing billions due to illegal cigarettes trade

There have been allegations of licensed companies involved in manufacturing counterfeits cigarettes.

CAPE TOWN – The Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa says 23 percent of the local cigarette manufacturing and distribution trade is made up of illegal products.

Officials from the institute briefed Parliament’s Trade and Industry portfolio committee today on issues affecting the industry.

The institute’s Francois van der Merwe told members of Parliament the country’s economy has lost R22 billion to the illicit trade in cigarettes since 2010.

Van der Merwe adds there have been allegations that licensed companies are also involved in the manufacturing of counterfeit cigarettes.

On Thursday, Eyewitness News revealed former South African Revenue Service (Sars) spokesperson Adrian Lackay claims evidence has emerged that British American Tobacco (BAT), a private investigation firm, and State Security Agency officials have been involved in cigarette smuggling. BAT has denied involvement in any illegal activity.

Parliamentarians questioned why this continues unabated when there are numerous agencies tasked with cracking down on the trade.

They raised concerns the country will continue to lose money if the problem is not adequately dealt with.

The association between smokers’ perceived importance of the appearance of cigarettes/cigarette packs and smoking sensory experience: a structural equation model



We assessed the reliability of a measure of the latent construct “smoking sensory experience.” We further measured the relationship between “smoking sensory experience” and smokers’ rating of the importance of the appearance of cigarettes/cigarette packs in brand choice and smoking dependence.


Analyses involved a national sample of smokers (n = 633) who participated in the 2010 South African Social Attitudes Survey (N = 3,112). Smokers ranked on a scale of 1-5, the importance of the following attributes in choosing their cigarette brand: health concerns, cost, packaging, taste, satisfaction, and flavor/strength. Using structural equation modeling, an a priori model was specified based on the hypothesis that taste, satisfaction, and flavor/strength are measures of a construct of “smoking sensory experience” and that cigarette packaging would be positively related to “smoking sensory experience.” Furthermore, “smoking sensory experience” would be positively related to cigarettes smoked per day.


The latent construct–“smoking sensory experience” was considered reliable (Cronbach’s α = 0.75). The structural equation model confirmed that the specified model fitted the data well (goodness of fit index = 0.993; normed fit index = 0.978; root mean square error of approximation = 0.031). Higher “smoking sensory experience” was positively associated with increasing cigarettes smoked per day (β = 0.12). Higher rating of the cigarette package in brand choice positively covaried with both “smoking sensory experience” (β = 0.29), and higher rating of health considerations (β = 0.42).


These findings support the regulation of the appearance of cigarettes/cigarette packs to reduce cigarettes’ appeal and abuse liability in line with Article 11 of WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.