Cigarette firms see red

HARARE - British American Tobacco (BAT) is in a “twirl” amid reports that an assortment of its imported cigarettes is in violation of several public health regulations, it has been learnt.

This comes as police authorities have ratcheted up seizures of a number of international brands, including Dunhill, on the grounds that the products were not in compliance with statutory instrument (SI) 264 of 2002.

Although company executives were not readily available for comment yesterday, government insiders said the blitz had also affected quite a number of local players, including Savanna Tobacco (Savanna) and John Bredenkamp’s Breco Group (Breco).

While the operation was part of a clampdown, which started late last year and to enforce the 12-year-old law, authorities were particularly interested in labelling and health warning issues — a key component and requirement of these long-standing regulations.

The blitz had also been undertaken to prevent the proliferation of communicable diseases through such consumable goods as cigarettes.

Lovemore Manatsa’s BAT had not responded to e-mailed questions by the time of going to press.

On the other hand, Breco executives led by group managing director Lawrence Majuru were not immediately available for comment.

Quizzed on what measures it had taken to comply with the law, Savanna said it had always been in compliance with SI 264 of 2002 through its “flow-wrap products and other packs”.

“Our flow-wraps… deliver a well-packaged, hygienic and legal product to all consumers, regardless of economic background.

“In addition, we have ensured that all our trade… partners are stocked with compliant stock for all their consumer profiles, so that they desist from illegal sales of loose or non-compliant cigarettes,” company spokesperson Gerald Gumbo said.

On the extent of the blitz and operation’s impact on their bottom-line, Savanna said it was more “concerned with the impact on ‘our’ trade and vendor partners who have had their livelihoods disrupted”.

“We have made every effort to help our partners recover, be in compliance with the law and also continue to sustain themselves and their families.

“We will (also) continue to stand by (them and)… our consumers so we can all achieve our aims of economic empowerment, higher quality products and compliance with the laws of the country,” he added.

The company said it could not comment on whether there were sufficient consultations on the law then since it had only started selling cigarettes in 2005-2006.

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