Cigarettes worth $70m sold

HARARE - Zimbabwean cigarette smokers have burnt more than $70 million worth of cigarettes.

According to a recent press report, Savanna Tobacco says of the 4,5 billion cigarette sticks produced last year, close to 1,8 billion were consumed locally.

If a 20-cigarette packet costs an average of $0,80 in most retail outlets which translate to 90 million packs sold, it consequently brings out a total figure of $72 million in sales revenue.

Savanna Tobacco together British American Tobacco, the latter whose figures were not readily available, are the major producers of cigarettes in Zimbabwe.

The total figures could be more considering that BAT holds a big chunk of the cigarette market share.

Owing to the 400 percent increase from the results in 2010, Savanna was compelled to acquire a state-of-the-art $6,5 million high-tech cigarette making machine in order to boost production.

This enabled the company which manufactures Pacific cigarette brands Storm, Mist, Breeze and Blue to increase capacity to produce cigarettes.

The cigarette manufacturer says Zimbabweans have smoked at least half a billion cigarettes during the first quarter of this year.

The high cigarette-smoking figures, however, come at a time when countries such as Australia and New
Zealand have adopted legislation to curb smoking and intensify anti-tobacco marketing bans.

Anti-smoking lobby groups are criticising the positive financial growth of cigarette-manufacturing companies which they say are hindering the World Health Organisation (WHO) campaign for control of tobacco.

Unlike in developed countries, there are no litigation worries in Zimbabwe.

However, developed countries consider legal action to recover funds in smoking-related health-care costs from the tobacco industry and they are committed to reduce the impact of smoking-related illness and mortality.

Such litigation has a potentially powerful way of countering the tobacco industry.

Cigarette manufacturing companies are aware their products are controversial and pose a serious health hazard to smokers and non-smokers alike, but, they place the onus on consumers to choose whether one wants to smoke or not.

According to WHO, tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death.

Despite the booming business that the industry is currently experiencing, the tobacco epidemic kills nearly six million people each year, of which more than 600 000 are people exposed to second hand smoke.

The tobacco industry is similar to annuity businesses.

Once a smoker is hooked, then an annuity income stream has been established.

The positive as well is that there are more new smokers than quitters.

Furthermore, it does not cost a lot to manufacture a cigarette, hence margins are good.

It is addictive and there is a fantastic brand loyalty which guarantees a continuous flow of  income until the smoker quits or passes on.

WHO estimates that tobacco will kill up to eight million people by 2030, of which more than 80 percent will live in low and middle-income countries.

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