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Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa

Tobacco, the golden leaf, has been praised and despised throughout history. It is a world commodity, bringing in billions of dollars to governments across the world. The tobacco industry is controversial because it produces a product which use is associated with health risks. There is also the other side of tobacco—more than 100 million people globally earn a living from the tobacco industry, whilst one in every six adults globally chooses to use tobacco products. Not only does the industry contribute financially to governments in terms of taxes, but also to individuals and communities in infrastructure development and social development programmes.

The use of tobacco products and the debate around the use of tobacco products will not disappear.  The tobacco industry agrees that tobacco products and the use thereof need to be regulated and that governments and organised industry should work together to sensibly regulate the industry. If governments and the legal industry do not strengthen each others’ hands, the legal industry will diminish, governments will lose revenue and the illegal industry will flourish.
Ensuring sensible regulation and taxation of the tobacco industry in the Southern African region is a priority for the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA).

TISA is a voluntary industry association, formed in 1991, representing the non-commercial, common interests of tobacco farmers, leaf merchants, leaf processors, manufacturers and importers of tobacco products.

TISA acknowledges the health risks associated with the use of tobacco products and believe that the use of tobacco products is a choice to be made by adults over the age of 18, who understand these risks. TISA believes public / private partnerships between government and industry in RSA and the region are the only way to achieve a win / win situation in relation to tobacco control and combating illicit trade in tobacco and tobacco products.

A wide scope of issues is dealt with by TISA on behalf of its members, amongst others:

- developing consolidated industry positions on all new tobacco control legislation and regulation to achieve sensible tobacco legislation in South Africa and the region;

- ensuring regulators consider and understand industry positions on regulatory issues through engagement and communication with the relevant department officials at all levels of government;

- engaging with key stakeholder and other industry groups to ensure their understanding of the impact of new tobacco control legislation on their operations;

- supporting all industry harm reduction initiatives, particularly the introduction of harm reduced tobacco products. TISA played a major role in ensuring the introduction of a clause in the proposed new legislation to accommodate harm reduced products;

- facilitating sustainable production of quality leaf by funding research in the primary industry; co-ordinating leaf research activities to eliminate duplication, evaluating project proposals and reporting on results against measurable objectives to key tobacco industry stakeholders;

- representing the Southern African tobacco industry internationally by attending and where possible participating international conferences and events;

- co-ordinating and participating in initiatives to develop and train emerging new black farmers with the objectives of increasing tobacco production as well as social upliftment in rural areas; and

- enhancing the reputation of the tobacco industry by projecting a consolidated industry viewpoint through a communication strategy built on open and transparent dialogue with all stakeholders and particularly the media.

Regionally, TISA has a mandate to liaise with industry and governments within the Southern African region. In dealing with governments in the region, TISA has received the same message; governments prefer to engage with organised industry/ a representative body about tobacco industry issues, rather than having to engage with individual tobacco industry role players.  TISA will continue in 2010 and beyond to build relationships, firstly between organised industry and government within a country, and secondly through cross-border forums between countries in the Southern African and SADC region.

TISA is committed to working together with governments, law enforcement agencies and the tobacco industry in the region to ensure a sensible regulatory and tax regime in the region and to combat the single biggest threat to the legal tobacco industry, namely, illicit trade. No government or industry player can achieve success in isolation. Cooperation and collaboration of efforts and resources is paramount in dealing with the challenges faced by the legal tobacco industry and by governments in the region.

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