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BAT Fights Illegal Tobacco
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The British America Tobacco (BAT) has reiterated the need for stakeholders, particularly government and the regulatory bodies to understand the need for greater cooperation and collaboration to fight illegal tobacco trade.

In a release on World No Tobacco Day which is marked on every May 31, BAT said the nature and scale of the illegal tobacco trade and the approaches required to tackle it varied from country to country.

These include regulation that is not balanced, over regulation, large excise increases causing price differences between countries and ineffective law enforcement measures.

However, BAT said if all of the different organisations involved in the illegal tobacco trade around the world are combined into one conglomerate, they would become the third largest international tobacco company by revenue.

Freddy Messanvi, BAT’s legal and external affairs director, said the impact of illegal tobacco may not be felt as immediately and directly as other crimes, “but the consequences are just as serious.”

“In estimates, illegal tobacco costs governments around the world $40-$50 billion each year in unpaid tobacco taxes. In West Africa, it is estimated to cost about $774 million to governments across the region, which means taxes paid could have been higher,” he said.

Mr Messanvi stated further that “it is important to note that the sales of illegal tobacco are reported to fund human trafficking, drug and arms trades as well as terrorist organisations. The amount of illegal tobacco is much more significant than is generally realised: an estimated 400-600 billion cigarettes, the equivalent of approximately 10-12% of world consumption globally and in West Africa about 60 billion cigarettes which is about 10% of the global illicit trade.”
He added, “It is a trans-national, multi-faceted issue and one that requires a collaborative approach to tackle it from governments and law enforcement agencies with whom we work in partnership to retailers and customers who can arm themselves with the facts.”

Mr Messanvi continued that BAT invests over $75 million each year globally to fight the illegal tobacco trade.

“British American Tobacco has dedicated anti-illicit trade teams across the world that work with government agencies, including police and customs officials, with the aim of bringing criminals who are involved in the illegal tobacco trade to justice. We also support the FCTC Protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products, but this treaty will only be effective if it is consistently applied and enforced by governments,” he said.
Source: Daily Guide

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