Africa is Big Tobacco’s last frontier, and companies are conquering the continent stick by stick. Even a child can afford the cost of a single cigarette, 16 cents for Moyana’s cheapest brand.
South Africa has some of the toughest regulations on the continent. Unlike in the United States, though, where the sale of packs with fewer than 20 cigarettes is prohibited, selling cigarettes single, or “one-one,” is not specifically banned here.
It’s twice as profitable for Moyana to sell cigarettes one-one. He doesn’t even bother to display sealed packs. And although it is illegal here to sell cigarettes to anyone younger than 18, he doesn’t turn them away.
Tobacco use is declining in the developed world. It’s reached a plateau in the strongest market, Asia. But it is growing in Africa, because of the continent’s booming population and rapidly expanding middle class.
“This is a major battleground,” says Yussuf Saloojee of South Africa’s National Council Against Smoking. “The African population is very young. If they can hook customers now, they’ve got customers for the next 40 or 50 years. So the prospects of an increasing market share are very good.”