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SA signs tobacco smuggling treaty

Johannesburg - South Africa has signed a new international treaty that aims to stop the smuggling of tobacco, the National Council Against Smoking said on Friday.

“The aim of the treaty is to reduce tobacco smuggling worldwide,” the council's head Yussuf Saloojee said in a statement.

Workers destroy counterfeit cigarettes. File photo: Independent Newspapers. Credit: Handout

He said the World Health Organisation protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products was signed by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in Geneva on Thursday.

Saloojee said the treaty encouraged countries to co-operate in identifying smuggling routes and trends, and arrest smugglers. Eleven other countries also signed, including China, France, Panama, Turkey, and Uruguay.

Saloojee said the treaty recommends that tobacco manufacturers be licensed, and that they verify who their clients are.

Stronger border controls and heavier penalties for smuggling are also recommended.

He said reducing illegal tobacco sales would help public health.

“Smuggling makes cigarettes cheaper and so increases sales. It encourages adults to keep smoking instead of quitting after tax increases, and makes tobacco affordable to youth. Higher tobacco sales in turn mean more sickness and death,” Saloojee said.

The health department was not immediately available for comment. - Sapa

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