Illegal cigarettes available in 43% of stores in SA, research finds

The investigation reveals that at least two-thirds of stores in four provinces are now selling cigarettes below the minimum collectible tax level of R21.60.

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CAPE TOWN - A new nationwide investigation by an independent market researcher has found that illegal cigarettes are available in 43% of stores in South Africa.

The latest Ipsos fieldwork was carried out between 8 October and 15 October and follows similar studies in March, February and June this year.

Using the 'mystery shopper' model, researchers bought the cheapest cigarettes in more than 4,000 stores nationwide.

The investigation reveals that at least two-thirds of stores in four provinces are now selling cigarettes below the minimum collectible tax level of R21.60.

It also found a high incidence of foreign brands as the cheapest on offer.

"Right now, we all have production counters that we should submit to Sars on a daily basis to account for each and every cigarette that we produce. Judging by the number of illicit cigarettes, it means that these rules are not being enforced," said British American Tobacco South Africa general manager, Johnny Moloto.