Monday, January 31, 2011

Tobacco Use in Egypt

I thought that with all of the news reports of political unrest coming out of the country of Egypt lately, that I would look into tobacco abuse by it's citizens.

Let's take a look at this amusing video from GlobalPost about smoking and street life in it's capital city, and the continent of Africa's largest city, Cairo, for an overview.

What this video reveals to me is that Egyptian smokers are in even worse denial about their addiction than American smokers. Since about 40% of adults in Egypt are smokers, that would make Egypt about twice as worse. But, how could that measurement be so high? Egypt does have a democratically-elected Ministry of Health, with leaders presumed to hold their beloved citizen's health paramount to any corporate profits, right? Like the one smoker in this video said "If the government thought smoking was harmful, they would have banned cigarettes". So, what possible reason could there be, other than smoker ignorance, that put Egypt in the lead of smoking Arab nations? Well, well, well - looky here. According to Google Finance - Eastern Company SAE is an Egypt-based joint stock company and a subsidiary of Chemical Industries Holding Company, engaged in the manufacture and trade of tobacco and its related products. The Company’s product portfolio includes cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and molasses tobacco (Moassels), as well as other related products such as cigarettes’ filter rods and homogenized tobacco. And it looks as though Eastern Company SAE also holds a monopoly in Egypt. According to excerpts from an August 10, 2010 Euromonitor International analysis (my bold) -
Eastern Company SAE remained under the control of the Egyptian Government, which continues to hold a 66% share of the company. Eastern Company continued its dominance of sales in all tobacco categories during 2009 as other tobacco companies are unable to compete with the low prices of Eastern Company’s domestically produced tobacco products and also lack Eastern Company’s high levels of penetration. Eastern Company provides the Government with an important revenue stream, constituting a significant amount of money to Government coffers yearly. This means that the Government is likely to be reluctant to make great efforts towards curbing the number of smokers among the Egyptian population. As long as the Egyptian Government remains the controlling shareholder in Eastern Company SAE, strict measures are not expected to be taken in terms of curbing the number of smokers in Egypt. Therefore, sales of tobacco products are expected to continue to rise in Egypt over the forecast period, with low public awareness of the health risks of smoking combining with high illiteracy and poor levels of education to cause widespread ignorance of why smoking is a dangerous activity. Laws banning the sale of tobacco products to minors, tobacco advertising and smoking in public places have officially been passed but are not yet being strongly enforced. As a result of this lack of enforcement, anti-tobacco legislation is not expected to pose any significant threat to sales of tobacco in Egypt during the forecast period.
No wonder there's so much political unrest in Egypt right now. With a democratically-elected Government profiting by addicting it's own citizens to nicotine, I'm surprised that only 40% of Egyptian adults smoke. It makes me wonder - if the Egyptian Government is doing this to it's own citizens, what else could they be doing?

Be smart my Egyptian friends. If you're unhappy with your current government, why do you financially support them with your smoking habit, it makes no sense? Quit smoking now!

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