Tobacco and Heart Disease is the theme for World No Tobacco Day on Thursday. Although most people regard cancer as the disease commonly associated with tobacco use, more smokers die of tobacco-attributable heart disease than tobacco-attributable cancers. While cigarette smoking in the western world is in decline, there are regional differences. Efforts to decrease tobacco consumption are undermined by the illicit trade in cigarettes. Cigarettes acquired on the illegal market are cheaper, making it easier for people to start smoking and to smoke more — and more difficult for them to quit the habit. Many countries battle to curb the illicit trade in cigarettes, including SA. Data in the February Budget Review strongly suggest that the illicit trade in tobacco is increasing in SA. Excise tax revenue from tobacco products decreased about 10% between the financial years 2016-17 and 2017-18, despite an 8% increase in the excise tax per pack of cigarettes. There had been a 7% decrease in r...

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