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Two steps forward on e-cigarette tax, but a step back on tobacco tax

The National Council of Smoking (NCAS) welcomes the tax on e-cigarettes and lauds the Minister of Finance for stepping in to close the regulatory gap in this area that has existed for over 10 years. Children who start using e-cigarettes are at risk of addiction and are more likely to progress to smoking tobacco cigarettes. High taxes can prevent this, as raising the price can deter children from starting to use e-cigarettes. It also protects public health, as e-cigarettes are linked to serious health risks, including heart and lung diseases as well as a high risk of stroke.  However, the paltry tax increase of R1.03 per pack of 20 cigarettes cannot be justified in either health or fiscal terms.

Annual tax increases should progressively make tobacco less affordable.  Instead, the 2022 increase of 5.5% is a regression from the 2021 8% increase. The National Treasury accepts that “higher prices should lead to lower consumption of products with positive spinoffs.” It is difficult to rationalise the marginal tax increase, as it will simply be absorbed by manufacturers. It will not lead to price increases, and therefore will not discourage young people from starting to smoke or motivate more smokers to quit or cut down. 

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana did not seize the opportunity to smooth the fiscal imbalance that tobacco consumption contributes to. For every R1 government receives in tobacco taxes, the economy loses R3.43 in treating tobacco-related illnesses, lost productivity and premature deaths.  A total of R42 billion is lost due to the tobacco burden each year. Less than R8 billion was collected from tobacco taxes in 2020/21, this leaves a deficit of over R34 billion. 

Minister Godongwana had every reason introduce a hefty tax for tobacco.  This would have solidified the National Treasury’s “commitment to the reconstruction and recovery of our economy, saving lives and restoring livelihoods, as well as securing the long-term prosperity of our nation.” 


For further information please contact: 

Dr Sharon Nyatsanza

Deputy Director - National Council Against Smoking

Tel: 011 7251514                      

sharon@againstsmoking.org.za /quit@againstsmoking.org.za

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Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that in South Africa (SA) alone, smoking results in more than half of lung cancer deaths, 37% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease deaths, and over 20% of cardiovascular deaths and tuberculosis (TB) deaths. Smoking-related TB deaths are especially prevalent in South Africa, due to a higher vulnerability of HIV-positive individuals to TB.  Because it attacks the lungs, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke or vape.

The new Control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill will make it easier for South Africans to choose smoke-free lives, regulate the danger of e-cigarettes and decrease the impact of second-hand smoke on the majority of the population, who are non-smokers. Why is taking time to implement? Tobacco industry profits are at the expense of addicted smokers, their families, and public health.  Together, the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa are steadfast in campaigning for the new Bill to be passed. It’s time for our people and our government to show leadership in implementing global best practice to curb the onslaught of big tobacco. 

Zanele Mthembu, Public Health Development and Policy Consultant

Savera Kalideen, Executive Director of the National Council Against Smoking 

Sharon Nyatsanza, Project and Communications Manager, National Council Against Smoking 

Lorraine Govender, National Advocacy Co-Ordinator, Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA)

Professor Pamela Naidoo, CEO, The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa

Dr Catherine Egbe, Specialist Scientist: Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drug Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council

Tamaryn Brown
Connect Media for Cart Agency
+27 (0) 84 3510560

Nirvana Kishoon 
Cart Agency
+27 (0) 82 823 3167


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