Despite pleas from British American Tobacco to maintain the tax rate at six percent, the legislators on Wednesday approved a seven percent, making eSwatini’s cigarette "sin tax" higher than those of neighbouring South Africa and Mozambique.
A study done by the British American Tobacco Swaziland had revealed that about 100 million sticks of cigarettes are smoked in eSwatini every year.
The report of the study was presented before the Finance Sessional Committee on Wednesday during a parliamentary debate on whether the eSwatini government should increase its sin tax to seven percent from the current six percent.
The tobacco firm opposed the tax hike, arguing that it would exacerbate the illegal trade in tobacco, which includes smuggling of illicit tobacco products into eSwatini.
“The sector directly and indirectly offers employment to over 1,500 people in eSwatini and tobacco products already paid the highest taxes in the country,” BAT senior manager Stephen Nyabandza said.