It is estimated that 50% of population in Myanmar do consume different kinds of tobacco. Most people use chewing tobacco and cheroots. As to filtered cigarettes, mostly they are used in cities. The anti-tobacco legislation is weak in the country and therefore numbers of smoking people are high. After the military rule fell in Myanmar, large tobacco companies started to invade it.
The Trade Ministry tries to attract more and more investors, but the Ministry of Health tries to introduce in the country measures in order to reduce smoking rates.
45% of population in Myanmar is under 24 and namely they are main target for tobacco manufacturers.
Less than 10% of smokers living in cities do prefer Western-style filtered cigarettes and tobacco companies see in this an opportunity to increase their cigarette sales. Shane MacGuill, a tobacco industry analyst at research firm Euromonitor, says that it is expected that cigarette sales to grow at between 2-3 % a year for the next four years.
British American Tobacco, the world’s largest tobacco company which makes such brands as Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall, plans to invest $50m over the next 5 years, and employ about 400 people. Besides this, Japan Tobacco International, the maker of Winston, Camel, Glamour, also is entering the country.
There are very few local tobacco companies in the country and foreign ones with their investments will have positive effects on the Myanmar economy as they will provide jobs and pay taxes.
In Myanmar there were not introduced the WHO’s smoking guidelines, such as a 65% tax levy and health warnings on cigarette packs. Smoking in public places was banned in 2006, but the fines for breaking the law are minimal.