On 30th September, Africa Times carried an article about a new book (by the former head of the now-disbanded high-risk investigation unit at the South African Revenue Service) and the attempted murder of a Zimbabwe tobacco “kingpin”, Simon Rudland, co-owner of Gold Leaf Tobacco. It says that the South African tobacco industry is split between the established players and the independent upstarts eating into their market share, and both sides have shown they will stop at nothing to achieve supremacy. The article alleges “dirty tricks” including industrial espionage and cynical lobbying, which has enabled wealthy tobacco companies to infiltrate key state security agencies. However, a new illicit trade unit, similar in scope to the old high-risk investigations force has been set up. It has promised a crackdown on rampant tobacco smuggling, with plans to phase out the old, ineffective stamps and introduce a new system of ‘track and trace’ – implementing such a system is a key global requirement under the terms of the World Health Organization’s Illicit Trade Protocol. It is said that in Kenya, introduction of “track and trace” resulted in a great reduction in illegal cigarettes and the Kenyan Revenue Authority’s revenue collection from cigarettes grew by more than 50%. The article warns of further interference with plans for the new system.
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