Smoking is known to be the leading cause of preventable death. Worldwide, tobacco use causes nearly 6 million deaths per year, and, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030.

Raising awareness on the dangers of tobacco consumption, as well as tactics employed by the tobacco industry to introduce young people into smoking has been a major focus of the tobacco control community in Africa lately. The sale of single sticks of cigarettes has been identified as one of the manipulative strategies the tobacco industry uses to market its products.

To better understand the phenomenon of the sale of single sticks of cigarettes in Africa, the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) conducted a study with the support of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and in partnership with CSOs in 10 countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Togo and Uganda).

• The sale of single sticks of cigarettes is widespread in Africa and poses a serious problem even in countries where it is banned: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Togo, and Uganda.
• Single sticks are available for sale from cigarette brands owned by major tobacco multinationals like British American Tobacco (BAT), Philip Morris International (PMI) and Imperial Brands
• Advertising of the sale of single sticks of cigarettes occurs through different channels in African countries, helping youth and other low-income groups to be informed of their availability and affordability.
• Retailers sell single sticks because no one, including their tobacco suppliers, informs them about the existing regulations governing the sale of tobacco products, or if they are aware, they take advantage of poor enforcement.

• Single sticks are cheaper than a full pack of cigarettes and, consequently, make tobacco more affordable to the youth and other individuals with limited resources.
• Single stick cigarette sales facilitate experimentation among youth who have not yet become regular smokers.
• The sale of single sticks limits smokers’ exposure to health warning labels found on tobacco packs in several African countries.
• The absence of laws regarding cigarette sales and/or the lack of enforcement of existing laws encourage retailers to sell single sticks of cigarettes.
• Single stick sales undermine smokers’ efforts to quit by not only making the product more easily accessible but also by serving as a cue for smoking, promoting relapse.

Stringent measures are necessary to provide lasting solutions to the problem of selling single sticks of cigarettes in Africa. Governments are called upon to:
• Ensure that the sale of single sticks or small packs of tobacco products is prohibited by passing and enforcing appropriate legislation.
• Ensure a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and this should include any advertising or promotional materials related to single sticks.
• Consider licensing of retail vendors of tobacco product

Regional report

View and download the report

View and download a factsheet from the survey