Police blitz on cigarette vendors

HARARE - A police blitz on vendors selling “unpackaged” cigarettes, among other goodies which are non-compliant with public health regulations, has resulted in the disruption of some compliant players’ business.

This comes as the Daily News has been running a series of exposés highlighting the existence and laxity in enforcing statutory instrument 264 of 2002, which prohibits the sale of cigarette sticks in a bid to contain the spread of communicable diseases, among other objectives.

Although Health minister David Parirenyatwa and police authorities were not immediately available for comment this week, a survey by this paper — since last Friday — has shown that a number of producers, including Savanna Tobacco (Savanna) and BAT, have taken a major hit as vendors were being arrested and were losing huge stocks.

This has happened in high-density suburbs, including Mufakose, Epworth, Mbare and other areas surrounding the capital.

While the operation was being carried in the interest of promoting public health and other socio-economic initiatives, industry players said it was unfortunate that compliant players such as Savanna and John Bredenkamp’s Breco Group had been caught up in the crackdown.

In that vein, fears abound that the initiative could have been used or “hijacked” by powerful commercial interests to outflank competitors through the destabilisation of local players’ distribution chains and channels.

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