Zimbabwe and other Sadc tobacco producing countries plan to lobby for the scrapping of plain cigarette tobacco packaging at the forthcoming World Health Organisation (WHO) convention.
BY OUR STAFF
The countries say the move promoted illegal sale of cigarettes and would prejudice their economies.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) will be held in three months time at the United Nations offices in New York as the world marks the two-year anniversary of tobacco plain packaging that was introduced by Australia.
Deemed to be “the world’s toughest anti-smoking law” measures, Australia’s plain packaging laws prohibit the use of all trademarks, logos, fonts, and colours, on tobacco products and was introduced to allow the use of standardised huge graphics discouraging smoking.
However, despite the introduction of the law, a survey by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has shown a slight increase in youth smoking among 12-17 year olds, with smoking rates up from 3,8% to 5% between 2010 and 2013, representing an increase of 32%.
Although Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry has not yet reported a decline in tobacco sales volumes due to tough tobacco laws, an increase in illegal sales which has the potential of prejudicing the economy has been reported by KPMG in October.
However, the resistance from some Sadc member states, where tobacco is a major contributor to economic livelihoods has probably not received the attention or answers required on the impact of increasing legislation to their economies.
Zimbabwe employs thousands of people in the tobacco industry. Tobacco alone contributes 10,5% of the gross domestic product. Last year, Zimbabwe contributed 44% of all tobacco exports from Sadc as Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi contributed 15% of all the global exports of tobacco leaf in 2013.