Million Cigarettes a Day
Zimbabweans are smoking at least five million cigarettes a day – and that’s just from one tobacco company.
Between January and December last year, Savanna Tobacco says Zimbabweans puffed an eye-watering 1.8 billion cigarettes of its Pacific brand which comes in three flavours – Storm, Mist, Breeze and Blue.
Savanna is the second-largest cigarette manufacturer behind British American Tobacco Zimbabwe, whose portfolio of products includes such brands as Dunhill, Newbury, Madison, Everest, Kingsgate and Berkeley.
No figures could be obtained from British American Tobacco.
Savanna, which is celebrating 10 years this year, says it produced 4.5 billion cigarettes in 2011, and 2.7 billion sticks were exported with the rest consumed locally.
Twenty-one percent of men in Zimbabwe – which has a population of 11.6 million – smoke cigarettes, according to a 2008 World Health Organisation survey.
But Namibia is the leader in Southern Africa with a startling 36 percent of men smoking. In South Africa, the figure was 25 percent, in Mozambique 20 percent, and Zambia 18 percent.
About eight percent of women in South Africa smoke, in Namibia nine percent, but the rate is in general much lower – two percent or less – in the other countries including Zimbabwe.
With worldwide concerns over the impact of smoking on health, Zimbabwe surprisingly has no anti-smoking groups. Tobacco is one of the strongest performers for the country’s agriculture-based economy.
Andy Fereira, a former president of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, says Zimbabwe was built on tobacco, which remains important economically.
“Tobacco to Zimbabwe was like what probably gold was to South Africa – if Johannesburg was created through the Witwatersrand gold fields, then Harare was definitely created by the growing of tobacco,” Fereira explains.
“That is how it has been important to Zimbabwe – we accounted for about 60 percent of the nation’s hard foreign currency earnings at our peak.”
Savanna chairman Adam Molai said: “Our brands have been extremely well accepted on the market.
“We now hold a significant market share after investing in high-tech German cigarette-manufacturing equipment. Over our 10 years in business, we have witnessed a growing footprint across the Southern African region in coun tries like Namibia, Swaziland, Angola, Zambia and Mozambique.” – New Zimbabwe