West Indian Tobacco (Witco) is introducing new packaging for all of its products — Dunhill, Lucky Strike/ Du Maurier, Lucky Strike/ Broadway and Rothman.
The repackaging is part of a Department of Health mandate to include graphic or pictorial health warnings in accordance with the Tobacco Control (Amendment) Regulations. Current packaging displays written health warnings.
In a press release on Friday, Witco chief executive Laurent Meffre said there had been no changes in the price, taste or flavor of the products.
He added that the company was pleased to partner with the Tobacco Control Unit to implement these changes and help identify suspected illicit products in trade.
Meffre said: “For too long the market has been used as a transshipment point for illicitly traded goods, foremost among them cigarettes. We remain confident that the government has put focus and resources on a number of initiatives to support the eradication of illicit trade.”
He said the use of graphical health warnings (GHWs) in industry was an example of such a development.
“Over the past year,” he noted, “the illicit trade task force set up by the Ministry of Commerce has yielded positive results and we look forward to future successes.”
Witco, based in Champs Fleurs, employs around 200 people and recently invested $85 million in improving its plant and machinery and in developing its workforce.
Witco is the local manufacturer and only regional distributor of and for tobacco products within Caricom.
Another cigarette company, Philip Morris International, also began repackaging in January in a bid to meet the March 24 deadline. PMI brands included L&M and Marlboro, related electronics and accessories.
Last year, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said $30 million in taxes evaded on illegal cigarettes made up about 5-10% of the local market.