The Cairo and Giza Tobacco Traders Association called on the Minister of Supply to distribute a monthly quota of cigarettes through the ration card system, which benefits 40 million low-income citizens.
The association also called on Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb to overcome failures in controlling the customs ports, which allow counterfeit and anonymous cigarettes to pass.
Ration cards is a type of the governmental subsidy system especially for support poor and low-income people in Egypt. This subsidy comprises food subsides like sugar, oil, rice, bread and beans.
Every poor or low-income family is supposed to have such a ration card to collect the subsided goods from distribution points.
The demand is for 30 cigarette-packets per month to be distributed through the general ration card system. Those who smoke a larger amount can then buy from the market, with prices 50% more than the official price.
The association said that cigarettes are a very important commodity to Egyptian citizens, like sugar, tea and wheat. The group believes that providing this product will “stabilise national security because the commodity controls the Egyptian people’s mood”.
It is also believed that the move will contribute to eliminating the cigarette black market and reduce the sales of contraband and counterfeit cigarettes. In addition, it will preserve the revenues of official tobacco companies which annually pay the state treasury approximately EGP 30bn in taxes on sales.
In Egypt, there are approximately 15 million smokers, more than half of them reside in the countryside. The number of smokers is expected to increase to 16 million, according to the tobacco traders association.
“After the increase of cigarettes prices, low-income families’ expenditures increased form EGP 1,100 to EGP 3,467.5 annually. This calculates that a person smokes one cigarettes packet per day at price of EGP 9.5,” the association revealed.
Currently smokers buy cigarette packets with the price of EGP 23, therefore their annual expenditures on cigarettes approximately amounts to EGP 8,395.
There are 30 local brands in the Egyptian market approved by the government, while 20 brands are imported legitimately and approximately 200 other illegal brands.