British American Tobacco SA Uses KPMG’s Flawed Research to Oppose SA’s Introduction of Plain Cigarette Packaging

By Pinky Khoabane


Tobacco manufacturer British American Tobacco (BAT) South Africa, together with lobbyist Francois van Der Merwe of Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA) have continued to use the false research by audit firm KPMG to argue against the introduction of plain cigarette packaging.

IN October 2013, KPMG published a report, funded by big tobacco, which claimed that “volumes of illicit manufactured cigarettes have increased by 154% since 2012” when Australia introduced a law on mandatory packaging for cigarettes that removes brand colours and logos from packaging.

The law requires cigarettes to be sold in olive green packets, with graphic images warning of the consequences of smoking.

A review of the report was found to be false. In fact, representatives of the tobacco manufacturers that had funded the research, conceded in the review of the KPMG report that their predictions of an increase in cigarette smuggling was incorrect.

Here at home Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi has vowed to introduce similar legislation which the tobacco industry has opposed on the basis of the flawed KPMG report. South African media, controlled by among others Johann Rupert, who owns a substantial amount in the tobacco business, have come out to support BAT’s false claims that removing packaging from cigarettes has no effect on smoking and instead has increased illicit trading.

In a BusinessDay report of February this year, “The plain truth is that plain packaging does not cut smoking”

On its website, BAT says:

“Tobacco consumption poses real risks to health, so we agree that tobacco products should be regulated in appropriate ways. We support, and want to help deliver, balanced and enforceable tobacco regulation. Plain packaging is a policy with potentially significant consequences, not all of which are well understood

What the evidence shows

Plain packaging WILL:

  • Drive down the cost of cigarettes as legal manufacturers will be able to compete only on price. This will make tobacco more accessible to under-18s and actually increase consumption
  • Encourage many consumers to move to buying illegal cigarettes, fuelling the already substantial black market and illegal trade in South Africa
    Cause cross border smuggling to increase across South Africa’s porous borders
  • Cause tax receipts to government to drop as more consumers move to illicit, untaxed products
    Plain packaging WILL NOT:
  • Cause consumers to quit or reduce smoking
  • Discourage people from taking up smoking
  • Prevent youth smoking”

BAT is NOT Telling the Truth.

(1) Putting health warnings on cigarette packets reduces smoking

  • ITC studies of smokers in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the US revealed that graphic warnings are more effective than text-only warnings at making smokers think about quitting and deterring them from having a cigarette and that larger, pictorial warnings are associated with increased quit attempts.23
  •   Evidence from Canada, the first country to implement graphic warnings, shows that after controlling for price, graphic warnings significantly decreased the odds of being a smoker and significantly increased the odds of making a quit attempt.24 Another study found that graphic warning labels reduced smoking rates by between 2.87 to 4.58 percentages points in Canada.25
  •   After Singapore introduced their graphic warnings in 2004, 28 percent of the smokers surveyed reported smoking fewer cigarettes because of the warnings; 14 percent of the smokers surveyed said that they made it a point to avoid smoking in front of children; 12 percent said that they avoided smoking in front of pregnant women; and 8 percent said that they smoked less at home.26
  •   Since Thailand introduced their second set of pictorial labels in 2006, 44 percent of smokers said the warnings made them “a lot” more likely to quit over the next month.27

(2) The decline of brand identity predicts reduced smoking behaviour following the introduction of plain packaging

The researchers, psychologists at Australian National University and the University of Queensland, suggest that as smoking has become stigmatized, tobacco companies have increasingly relied on brand identity to reach customers. “Smokers are now viewed by many as unhealthy, unattractive, and even dirty,” the researchers write, but identifying with a particular brand “deflects the negative connotations” of being seen as a smoker and “may help to define the self with more positive content (e.g. ‘Winboro Woman’ can be sassy, independent and minty fresh).”

(3) Steady decline in tobacco consumption since introduction of plain packaging

“In July 2014, data from the latest triennial national survey of tobacco use in those aged 14 and over were released.10 Australia now has the lowest smoking prevalence in this group in the whole world with daily consumption of tobacco by only 12.8% and less than daily by 3%. Moreover, the percentage fall in daily prevalence between 2010 and 2013 was a record 15.2%. The average percentage decline across the nine surveys since 1991 was 7.6%, with the previous greatest fall being 11%.11 In the same period the percentage of daily smokers aged 12–17 years rose from 2.5% to 3.4%.”



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  1. This KPMG is implicated in every financial scandal in S.A.
    All their asset should be forfeited , thereafter throw them out of the country.

    The one scandal we forgot about was Masterbond Group

  2. Now BAT is vigorously pushing sales by giving out some free materials to street vendors who sell 800 sticks of tobacco a month.For the first three months one qualifies for 8 20’s of cigarette. Thereafter u qualify for a pack of 200 plus the 8 20’s.
    The condition is that the trader must sell a stick at R2.5 which then influence easy spending as it is affordable.

    1. Armstrong, I dont seem to be understanding what you are saying – perhaps because my mind has shut-off with disbelief. What do you mean BAT is giving away “free materials”?
      There’s an old man who sells newspapers in my hood and he sells loose cigarettes to school children near his corner. It is terrible. So in effect the entire policy of packaging with these horrific effects plastered on the boxes dont affect the people who buy loose.
      Wow, wonder what can be done to curb this too!
      Now you’ve got my head going…..


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