British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco International bid huge sums of money to invest in Ethiopia’s smokers

The information here was based on, and is a discussion of, the following article published on May 24, 2016, (author, Dawit Endeshaw):

Three of the richest tobacco companies globally recently bid for part-ownership of Ethiopia’s only tobacco company, National Tobacco Enterprise, as the government put shares in the company up for sale.

Japan Tobacco International bid $ 510 million (10 billion birr)
British American Tobacco bid $ 230 million (4.6 billion birr)
Philip Morris International bid $120 million (2.4 billion birr)

This is huge money and it shows how much these companies want to get a share of Ethiopia’s cigarette market: they believe there are big profits to be made from investing in cigarettes and smokers in Ethiopia.

According to this and other recent articles, the smoking rate is increasing 8 % per year in Ethiopia. This, coupled with the fact that Ethiopia has a large population of young people and one of the lowest smoking rates globally, means that these “giants” of the tobacco industry see huge market potential in Ethiopia’s smokers.

This is so very unfortunate because Ethiopia was ranked several years ago among the bottom five countries with the lowest smoking rates globally: something to be proud of. Also, indicators are that Ethiopia is doing a very nice job of tackling communicable diseases, so it would be so very sad to see tobacco-related diseases rise in prevalence, especially as smoking causes almost a third of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, emphysema and cancer.

Many high-income countries are now tackling their tobacco problem and smoking rates are dropping. As high income countries show declines in smoking, will we see some of the low-prevalence countries become high prevalence countries in a reverse shift?

Japan Tobacco International, the company that made the biggest bid for shares in National Tobacco Enterprise, has aggressively pursued “emerging markets,” which include many developing countries where there is a potential for getting a lot of young people to become smokers and to become their addicted customers for life. In 2009, 68 percent of JTI’s volume sales came from emerging markets.

We can all play our part in protecting our children and youth from tobacco addiction and later from developing tobacco-related diseases, which kill over a half of all smokers. Whether we are doctors, nurses, other healthcare workers, educators, parents, or simply responsible citizens, we can educate everyone whenever we get the chance about the dangers of smoking (and that goes for cigarettes and shishas/hookahs or any form of tobacco). Educate them to cease smoking if they already smoke, and not to start smoking if they don’t already smoke. This is where the battle against tobacco-related diseases will be won. Tobacco companies have nothing healthy to educate the public about, but those who oppose tobacco have plenty.

Here is an interesting article about Japan Tobacco International and includes some of the tactics the company has used to enhance its profits:


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