Survey: growing use of cigarettes in Africa is “epidemic”

On the African continent, cigarette consumption has increased by 40% in the past two decades. According to a study on trends in the supply and demand of cigarettes by the University of Cape Town’s Economics of Tobacco Control Project (ETCP). The report found that many African countries with poor tobacco controls are an attractive destination for cigarette companies. 

Researchers examined cigarette consumption in 22 African countries. “While cigarette consumption is decreasing in most developed countries, it is increasing in many developing countries, where markets are often unregulated, cigarette prices are low and tobacco control laws are weak or not enforced,” the ETCP study says. It describes the growing use on the continent as an “epidemic”.  

Mail&Guardian reports that some countries are successful in regulating tobacco. South Africa is highlighted as a case where new controls have made cigarette use fall. The smoking population in South Africa decreased from 33% to 20%. Although South Africa’s anti-tobacco laws are more stringent than the rest of the continent’s, they are not at the same level as those in many developed countries, Mail&Guardian reports. 

Worldwide, four major transnational companies dominate the markets: Philip Morris International, BAT, JTI and Imperial Tobacco. On the African continent, 62 companies produce tobacco in 30 countries. South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt and Algeria are the five main production hubs.  

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