Japan Tobacco International (JTI), one of Cambodia’s biggest cigarette distributors, has announced that it is rejoining the Association of the Tobacco Industry of Cambodia (ATIC) following a recent ATIC promise to combat illegal cigarette sales and fake products. It left the association in mid-2016.
The ATIC announcement said it had organised an annual meeting last week and decided to regroup in order to tackle issues that have put the industry at risk, including illegal cigarette sales, fake products, products with non-pictorial health warnings and products which do not have a legitimate tax stamp.
Cormac O’Rourke, the general manager of JTI Cambodia which produces the Camel, Winston and Mevius brands, said his company’s rejoining of ATIC will raise the commitment of all members and players to adhere to the relevant laws and regulations that benefit the entire industry.
“The illegal trade of tobacco products is, by far, the industry’s biggest challenge. It is severely damaging tobacco companies, the industry, public health agenda and the national economy,” he said.
He said having a united voice from the industry led by the ATIC and supported by government intervention will benefit everyone in combating the illegal trade.
In July 2016, JTI declared it would end its affiliation with the ATIC because the association failed to create a “level playing field” by allowing unmarked cigarette imports to continue flooding the market despite legislation requiring packaging to carry graphic images and warning labels.
ATIC President Matt Naumann said the group decided to make major reforms to its structure and direction to drive compliance in the tobacco sector for a “One Industry” standard.
The recent reform of the ATIC has also led to changes in membership. Its announcement said that Viniton Group Co Ltd had left the association while JTI rejoined.
The ATIC now consists of PMI, Houtraco, British American Tobacco Cambodia (BATC) and JTI (Cambodia) as official members.
An ATIC statement last year said illegally imported cigarettes accounted for around 20 percent of all sales in the sector. It claimed the government was missing out on around $10 million in potential tax revenue from these products.