Yussuf Saloojee’s article refers (Multinationals use smoke and mirrors in illicit trade, November 7). While I agree that the illicit tobacco trade facilitates corruption, money laundering and state capture, the one critical impact he fails to address is the dire consequences it has on undermining his and government’s health agenda. Illicit cigarettes, precisely because they fail to pay duties and taxes — more than 50% of a legal packet of smokes — very often sell for as little as R7 or R8 on the street. When a pack of 20 sells for that price, the health agenda means nothing, because all of a sudden those who couldn’t afford a legal packet of cigarettes can do so.
While we as members of civil society have a responsibility to play our role in promoting an agenda that is in the interest of society, we can never allow our ideology to undermine that mission. Who cares that the illicit trade figures the industry quotes are different to Saloojee’s? The reality is that Interpol has prioritised the illicit trade as a top-five global crime. It is a deeply profitable industry that fuels terrorism, organised crime, rhino trafficking and corruption.
I am disappointed in the National Council Against Smoking and in Saloojee, whose predisposition to hate the industry is clouding his judgment and responsibility to fulfil his mandate.
Cecil OctoberVia e-mail