South Africa - smoking more cigars as cigarette usage declines..

March 18, 2010 - Successful South Africans are smoking more cigars as cigarette usage declines. The young entrepreneur smokes mainly cigars, he says, “because it shows people that I am now able to afford the finer things in life." says businessman Ncapayi. Most good quality cigars on sale in South Africa range in price from US$ 6 to $50 each. New cigar smokers: young, black and very successful.

Yet South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in the world. As the nation’s slums expand, so do its lavish suburbs, where people pay many millions of rands for opulent houses. While millions of citizens earn less than a dollar a day, South Africa is also home to the most millionaires (in dollars) on the continent.

The increase in cigar consumption in South Africa is happening along with a drastic drop in cigarette smoking, as the government intensifies what’s already some of the world’s toughest anti-smoking legislation. Smoking in public is illegal in South Africa, and higher taxes on tobacco products make cigarettes too expensive for many South Africans. Deterrents such as these have helped drive cigarette smoking in the country down to the lowest rates in modern times.

Yet, the National Council Against Smoking wants even stricter anti-smoking regulations and higher tobacco taxes. But it acknowledges that while almost 40 percent of South African adults smoked cigarettes in the mid-1990s – about 17 million people – now just over 20 percent are regular cigarette smokers – about seven million people.

Growing numbers of South African women smoking small cigars called cigarillos.

According to the US National Cancer Institute, regularly smoking cigars poses serious health risks, including cancer of the mouth, esophagus and throat. Experts say lung disease is lower among cigar smokers than among cigarette users, because cigar smokers typically don’t inhale the smoke but rather “taste” it in their mouths. But they warn that cigar smoking can cause mouth and throat cancer.

Reference: Luxury Cigars in Demand in South Africa as Cigarette Smoking Plummets, Darren Taylor | Johannesburg, South Africa, (Voice of America), 3/15/2010.

South Africa related news briefs:
South Africa - smoking rates remain high much more work still needed..;
South Africa - difficult to enforce law against smoking in a vehicle when child younger than 12 is present..;
South Africa - BAT wants court to lift ban on "one-to-one" communication with smokers..;
South Africa - new anti-smoking laws have to be enforced..;
Swedish Match finalizes sale of South African operation to PMI..;
South Africa - tobacco control legislation signed into law..; South Africa - survey of youngsters smoking and drinking hablits..;
Reynolds Tobacco is now providing coupons for a free can of Camel SNUS;
British American Tobacco (BAT) - 100 years in Africa..;
BAT Marketing Tobacco Products Using Text Messaging...

South Africa is currently divided into nine provinces. Johannesburg is in Gauteng province, the richest in South Africa with the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Africa below the Sahara.