Lobby group calls for 100% tax hike on tobacco products

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The lobby group, National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) is calling for a 100% tax hike on tobacco products, saying it could relieve pressure on an overloaded health system.

The group says that the move could also encourage smokers to quit.

It says it will soon engage with Treasury to look into their demands.

The group’s Sharon Nyatsanza says if they get their way, consumers could pay almost R40 in tax per box of 20 cigarettes.

“Currently tobacco tax is R17 per pack of 20 cigarettes, so this was increased earlier in the year by 74 cents. Right now tax is about R17.74 cents. So the call for a 100% increase would then mean that tax on a pack of cigarettes would now be about R38. This is very important because it’s a win for public health and it’s also a win for the economy,” adds Nyatsanza.

Earlier this year, tobacco farmers said the continued ban on tobacco products would result in massive job losses.

Several protests have been staged against the ban: 

Meanwhile, the South African Medical Research Council said close to a million people quit smoking in South Africa during the hard lockdown.

It said the government made the right decision to ban tobacco in the first months of the lockdown, but could have done more to support people who wanted to quit smoking.