A recent study revealed that cigarettes produced in Switzerland and shipped to Africa have higher levels of addictive and toxic elements compared to those produced for the EU market. This scandal was revealed by the NGO Public Eye, and unfortunately is completely legal.
Marie Maurisse, the author behind this controversial report, had Swiss cigarettes marked for import to Africa analysed, and the results are simply astounding. In Morocco, a Camel cigarette contains 1.28 milligrams of nicotine, compared to 0.75 milligrams for the exact same product sold in Switzerland. Winston cigarettes manufactured for the African continent contain up to 1.5 times more particles compared to those produced for Switzerland.
Swiss tobacco products are highly popular across the African territory thanks to the strong reputation of the Swiss; for many smokers from Africa, a Swiss cigarette is a mark of quality. Just in Morocco, over 2900 tons of Swiss-produced cigarettes were sold in 2017. In comparison, 54525 tons of tobacco were sold in France over the same year.
Africa: the Big Tobacco El Dorado
For tobacco companies, the African continent represents a major market. The average continental smoking rate is approximately 6.5% of the population, but for those under age 15, the rate jumps to 13%, and girls smoke just about as much as boys. For Moroccan teens, cigarettes are a symbol of freedom. According to the WHO, the number of smokers in Africa should explode by 2025, reaching a 40% increase compared to 2010.
Currently, border authorities focus on ensuring taxes are paid, but never check the contents of cigarette shipments. By increasing the dosage of addictive particles, Swiss cigarette manufacturers are making sure that smokers across Africa can be profoundly addicted to their products.
This new market is a financial goldmine for Big Tobacco, while in Europe and the USA cigarette sales are declining steadily.