BAT shares slip as SA, EU consider ban on cigarette logos
BRITISH American Tobacco (BAT’s) share price fell 0.5% to R435.63 on Thursday after South Africa and the European Union (EU) said they are considering banning logos on cigarette packs as part of an upcoming review of their laws to deter smoking, a day after Australia’s highest court upheld a similar ban.
"We will do it, definitely," Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi was quoted as telling The Times newspaper on Thursday. "Rest assured, I am extremely excited."
Dr Motsoaledi had said previously that if the Australian government won the case, South Africa would follow suit. The court dismissed a legal challenge to the government’s ban, in a case filed by the JSE’s largest company, BAT, along with Britain’s Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco. The ruling means that from December, all cigarette packs sold in Australia will brandish plain olive packaging.
The EU will publish a draft revision to its 2001 tobacco products directive later in the year, and may introduce more stringent rules on packaging as well as extend legislation to newer tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes.
"Many things are being discussed, including the possibility of plain packaging," Antonio Gravili, a spokesman for the European Commission, said in Brussels.
Printing larger graphic images on packs of the diseases linked to smoking was another option, he said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says smoking is "one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced".
Smoking causes lung cancer, which is often fatal, as well as other chronic respiratory diseases. It is also a major risk factor for heart disease, the world’s number one killer. The WHO predicts that smoking could kill 8-million people every year by 2030 if governments do not take more action to help people quit.
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