The Anti Tobacco Network (ATN) is pushing for the total ban of the sale of single cigarettes by vendors and supermarkets and the selling of tobacco products by unlicensed vendors in the streets.
This motion has emanated from the recent assessment conducted in Maun, Jwaneng, Gumare, Shakawe and Gaborone, which has indicated that the tobacco industry is flourishing.
Interim Executive Officer for ATN, Bonthle Mbongwe, said, “Comprehensive legislation cannot wait any longer, looking at the situation on the ground it is now urgently needed,” Mbongwe said.
“Tobacco has become a diamond for every retailer, supermarkets and vendors as the product is in high demand.”
She said in Maun, vendors are no longer selling sweets and chips since they have ventured full time in the selling of crushed cigarettes and single cigarettes as they sell more than any other product.
“Our recent inspection in and around the country shows that there is way too much tobacco in the market and in most cases children as young as 12 years are selling the cigarettes ,” she said.
Mbongwe said this is posing a serious threat as children under the age of 18 have easy access to the cigarettes.
In addition Mbongwe said a comprehensive legislation is urgently needed to control the proliferation of tobacco into the country.
“We have foreigners smuggling in crushed cigarettes and they are selling a 25litre bucket for P100 only and the crushed tobacco has flooded the market in Maun.” Mbongwe said the business is booming in the tourist areas and the vendors claim that tobacco is another diamond in itself as it sells better than anything else.
She added that single cigarettes are very cheap and everybody affords a cigarette. A single cigarette ranges from 50 thebe to P1, 50 which is very affordable. She said “government needs to raise tobacco tax and price to discourage use by children.”
The vendors are selling the cigarettes cheaper than the wholesale prices.
“The legislation needs to be strengthened against illicit trade with appropriate penalties and remedies being put in place,” she said. Mbongwe said “the tobacco industry is bigger than we think and Botswana cannot afford to treat the after effects of tobacco.”