FITA has noted Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, intends to have the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act submitted to cabinet for approval in early 2018.
FITA encourages engagement with local manufacturers by government on the amendments, and whole-heartedly rejects BAT South Africa’s heavy handed bullying tactics and threats to government with regard to measures such as plain packaging. FITA, on the otherhand, welcomes plain packaging.
FITA, in its representative capacity of local tobacco manufacturers, shares its member’s sentiment in being cautiously optimistic on some of the aspects under consideration of the Health Ministry. FITA recognises that these measures will directly impact the size of the tobacco industry, and will likely see further shrinkage thereof.
FITA wishes to adapt to the changing market conditions, and eagerly welcomes some of the measures that will potentially have the knock-on effect of levelling the playing fields. FITA has been at pains to shed light on the disproportionate treatment of, and by, the dominating large multi-nationals and unscrupulous activities attributed to them.
FITA acknowledges that the amendments will lead to a fiscal challenge for its members, as they will be at the mercy of a shrinking market. Nonetheless, FITA commends certain aspects of the Health Ministry’s logic and welcomes that much of it cannot be faulted.
Conversely, BAT has in the past threatened to turn its back on the South African market in response to the proposed changes. BAT South Africa has used heavy handed rhetoric, holding the society to ransom, stating it will close its plant.
In contrast, FITA hopes and trusts that these measures will be introduced after full consultation with all the role players in the industry and not just those big companies that seem to hold much sway over certain government officials.