BAT Says Planned South African Tobacco Rules May Close Plant
British American Tobacco Plc said it may close South Africa’s only cigarette plant if plans to ban branded tobacco packaging are implemented.
BAT operates its eighth-largest factory globally in Heidelberg, south of Johannesburg. The proposed new rules would threaten the financial viability of the operation, Joe Heshu, BAT’s head of external affairs in Southern Africa, said in an e-mailed response to questions on Monday.
Plain packaging threatens the closure of the factory and "poses a threat to the viability of the legal tobacco industry in South Africa," Heshu said. The move will make it harder to distinguish the cigarettes from black-market cigarettes and “the illegal market will benefit from having a cheaper product,” he said.