Ipsos: Illegal cigarettes widely available at over 4,500 stores in SA

It's found illegal cigarettes are available in 43% of stores and are being sold for as little as R8 a pack, more than R13 below the minimum collectable tax level.

FILE: This is the year's fourth Ipsos investigation into the tobacco trade. Picture: 123rf.com

CAPE TOWN - A study conducted by market research company Ipsos has shown that illegal cigarettes are widely available, and consumers can find them in almost every other store.

Researchers bought the cheapest cigarettes in almost 4,500 stores across the country around the second week of October.

It's revealed at least two-thirds of stores in four provinces are now selling cigarettes below the minimum collectible tax level of R21.60.

This is the year's fourth Ipsos investigation into the tobacco trade.

It's found illegal cigarettes are available in 43% of stores and are being sold for as little as R8 a pack, more than R13 below the minimum collectable tax level.

The survey has also found a high incidence of foreign brands being the cheapest on offer.

British American Tobacco South Africa believes the illicit cigarette trade is now officially out of control and general manager Johnny Moloto said it was costing the fiscus.

“Last year, Sars missed their target by R7.5 billion in terms of excise collections. This number jumps to R19 billion this year, that they'll not collect given the size of the market in total. So, this is the gap that they're not collecting from the illicit players.”

In the Western Cape and the Free State, three in every four stores sell illegal cigarettes.