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The Harms of Smoking – Part 2

May 31, 2022

Tobacco Stats in South Africa

The stats for tobacco usage in South Africa, like the rest of the world, is very shocking. How people can see these numbers and read through the statistics and still light-up another cigarette is mind-boggling, but unfortunately that is just the reality.

In July 2020, South Africa had an estimated population of approximately 59.62 million people. Approximately 44,000 South Africans die from tobacco-related diseases annually.

Tobacco Use

According to a 2017 national survey, about 20% of South Africa’s adult population (age 15 and above) smoked cigarettes, and a 2012 survey found that about 5% of the adult population used other tobacco products.

In 1993, smoking prevalence among adults was estimated at approximately 33%. The decrease in smoking prevalence occurred between 1990 and 2010, after which it plateaued around the current level.

Who Dominates the Tobacco Market?

Historically, British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) maintained the lead as the largest tobacco manufacturer and distributor of tobacco products in South Africa. In recent years, their market share has declined.

Market research company, Euromonitor International estimated that in 2019, BATSA held 71.4% of the market share, followed by Japan Tobacco International (JTI) (12%), and Philip Morris International (8.9%).

Since 2010, local manufacturers (such as Gold Leaf Tobacco, Best Tobacco Company, Amalgamated Tobacco Manufacturers, and Carnilinx Tobacco Company) have entered the market offering lower priced brands. These companies have steadily gained market share and their presence increased dramatically during the COVID 19 pandemic when cigarette sales in South Africa were banned for several months.

Next Generation Products

A 2016 national survey found that 2% of females and 3% of males aged 15 − 49 use e-cigarettes daily or occasionally. The most well-known e-cigarette brand in South Africa is Twisp. In August 2019, BATSA acquired Twisp from a South African e-cigarette manufacturer. Next generation products are heavily marketed so it is likely that the prevalence is now higher than 2%.

Tobacco Farming

Tobacco leaf is grown in several provinces of South Africa, but from 1990 to 2014, production decreased by 54%. Along with the decline in the area of tobacco planted, the number of primary producers and tobacco processors decreased. In 1996, there were 620 commercial tobacco farmers cultivating 14,700 hectares of land. This number decreased to 175 commercial tobacco producers in 2014, cultivating 4,700 hectares of land. Tobacco farming represents only a small fraction of agriculture in the country, with only less than 0.01% of agricultural land devoted to tobacco cultivation.

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