Benefits to the Tobacco Industry
The tobacco industry’s business portfolio is still highly valued for its perceived contributions to economic growth in many countries within Africa. As a result, the industry receives government benefits or incentives to expand its operations. Governments in the region continue to accommodate requests from the tobacco industry for a longer time period for implementation or postponement of tobacco control legislation, an increase in cigarette taxes, or a delay in the implementation of tobacco product levies.
The most often mentioned benefits in the region in this reporting period related to tax exemptions, minimal or no tax increases on tobacco goods, and a longer period of time to implement mandatory health warnings on cigarettes. Another area that the industry is benefiting from is the introduction of novel tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes.
Figure 8 shows countries that provided benefits or promoted the tobacco industry during the reporting period.
Pro-industry policies, postponement and deferment of tobacco control measures by governments
Several tobacco control measures such as passage of a tobacco control act, ratification the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, implementation of pictorial warnings on cigarette packs and
regulation of electronic nicotine delivery systems and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS) have either been delayed, poorly implemented, or not implemented at all in many African countries.
In South Africa, the 10-year delay (2013 – 2023) in ratifying the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products has worked overall favour of the tobacco industry. The tender on a track and trace system was also cancelled and the current self-reporting system (from the tobacco industry) on tobacco production is open to potential tobacco industry manipulation. The unregulated use of ENDS/ENNDs in the country also allows the tobacco industry to market these devices and products under the guise of harm reduction.
The pic torial health warnings required on the packaging of tobacco products on sale in Gabon (60% of the front and 65% of the back of each
package) are still not applied despite the Gabonese Republic being among the first 40 countries to sign the WHO FCTC. Gabon was also the first country in Africa and the second in the world to become a Party to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.
In Mozambique, tobacco control measures currently do not comply with the WHO FCTC. Tobacco industry CSR activities are not prohibited, there are no pictorial warnings on cigarette packs and taxes on tobacco products remain low.
Similiarly, the long delay in the filing of the Control of Tobacco Products Bill in Zambia has benefited the tobacco industry to increase its business. Instead, there was the enactment of the proindustry Tobacco Act No 10 of 2022 with overwhelming support from Members of Parliament. Further, almost all countries within the region permit duty-free allowances of tobacco products for international travelers (Table 2).
Tax breaks, incentives, and trade boosts
The tobacco industry also benefitted from tax breaks and exemptions in 2022. In Cote d’Ivoire, tobacco companies turned to the Ivorian Business
Authority to negotiate tax breaks making it possible to revise the increase in the tobacco tax by only one point (35 to 36% in 2018) and from 38 to 39% in 2021.
Whereas in Chad, as part of the 2023 Finance Law, the government through
the Ministry of Finance proposed reducing the amount of the specific tax
from 100XAF to 50FXAF per pack of cigarettes in response to requests from the tobacco industry and the National Council of Chadian Employers in the face of the weight of smuggling that caused a sharp drop in the turnover of Imperial Tobacco Chad.
In Gabon, the measure introduced by the Minister in charge of the economy
relating to the suspension of taxation of tobacco products voted by a finance law still remains in force.
Tanzania the Government fully supports the tobacco industry, giving huge subsidies to upscale production and inviting more leaf companies to purchase the crop. There have been no increase in tobacco taxes in Tanzania for the third year running.
Nevertheless, some countries, have made good progress in terms on reviewing of current tobacco taxes.
In Burkina Faso, as part of the implementation of the Finance Act, fiscal year 2023, the tax rate on tobacco, cigars, cigarettes and cigarillos was
increased from 50% to 55% in accordance with the West African Economic and Monetary Union directive.
Similiarly, parliamant in Ghana passed the excise Duty Amendment Bill in
March 2023 amidst opposition by some Members of Parliament. Though the bill was submitted to Parliament on 24th November 2022 and passed on 31st
March, 2023, the delay in passing the bill allowed industry to import tobacco products into the country giving them advantage to sell their products to consumers at cheaper prices.
Likewise, In South Africa, the excise duties on alcohol and tobacco was
also increased by 4.90% to align to inflation (BOX 1).
- 23g cigar increased by 5.47 ZAR (0,30 USD)
- A pack of 20 cigarettes increased by 0.98 ZAR (0,054 USD),
- A pack of 20 heated tobacco sticks increased 0.73 ZAR (0,040 USD).
- R2.90ZAR/ml (0,16 USD/ml) introduced for electronic cigarettes
Presently, the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) and the Public Service Pension Fund in , Zambia hold shares in BAT Zambia Limited. NAPSA holds a 3.01% share, while PSPF holds a 3.77% share in the company. Divesting from these holdings is crucial to demonstrate the government’s commitment to safeguarding public health and reducing the influence of the tobacco industry.
Delay, postponement and deferment of tobacco control measures by governments
In Tanzania, the tobacco industry is currently benefiting from the delay in the enactment of new smoke-free law which contributes to an increase in cigarette sales. A sim ilar observation is made in Zambia where a long delay in the passing of the FCTC compliant Tobacco Products Control Bill
has benefited the tobacco industry to increase its business.
In Burkina Faso, tobacco companies have been granted an extension by the Ministry of Trade to continue to supply and sell tobacco products without
graphic health warnings.
In Mauritius, the Ministry of Commerce allowed Zippy Mouse Ltd to import 22 million roll-your-own cigarette papers with a market value of over Rs 460 million in November 2022, despite the presence of a ban.