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Smokers warned against illegal cigarettes

The Tobacco Institute of South Africa on Friday urged smokers not to buy illegal cigarettes.

A man smokes a cigarette. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The Tobacco Institute of South Africa on Friday urged smokers not to buy illegal cigarettes as it could be detrimental to their health

The institute said government loses around R4 billion every year in taxes, due to the illegal trade.

The institute said 16 million cigarettes were recovered in May and that a majority of those came from Zimbabwe.

The institute's Francois van der Merwe said, "Smokers should not buy illegal cigarettes because it's not only about a cheap product, it's defrauding the country. Illegal cigarettes are even worse for your health compared to legitimate cigarettes."

In April, a police station commander was arrested in Swartruggens, near Rustenburg, for possession of R135,000 worth of illegal cigarettes.

According to authorities, around 28 percent of cigarettes sold in South Africa are illegal.