FITA Press Release 21 February 2020

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Press release – FITA – for immediate release

We commend the efforts of SARS Customs officers stationed at the Durban harbour who yesterday seized a large container of allegedly illegally imported cigarettes which appear to be counterfeits of FITA member Gold Leaf Tobacco’s Chicago brand.

The cigarettes were stashed in 900 boxes in the container, and were allegedly declared as furniture.

FITA and its members welcome the seizure and applaud the efforts of SARS in combatting the illegal trade which has of late spiked significantly to the detriment of legitimate local manufacturers, many of whom are members of FITA.

FITA hopes that this is the start of a major clampdown on the illegal trading in tobacco products and hopes that it sends out a strong message that SARS will be taking a firm position regarding this issue which is robbing our fiscus of billions.

This seizure involved the counterfeiting of a FITA member brand and is line with what FITA has been advancing in its recent press releases regarding the need for our border posts to be fortified, with more adequately trained SARS Customs officials being placed there.

The current porous state of our border posts will in all likelihood ultimately lead to the demise of the legitimate tobacco industry in South Africa. This will also have an adverse knock-on effect on the fiscus as some manufacturers may have to close down.

This will lead to the taxes that these manufacturers currently contribute being lost. This will ultimately equate to job losses, and in the grand scheme of things this will have a major impact on our already gloomy socio-economic status.

Issued by Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association Chairperson: Sinenhlanhla Mnguni

21 February 2020

For queries kindly contact Monique Vogel t: 072 720 7919; e: Monique@fita.co.za

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