Cameroon is experiencing a tobacco epidemic with more than one million active smokers, nearly 7 million passive smokers and more than 300,000 young people between the ages of 13 and 15 regularly consuming tobacco products known to be deadly. In addition, with the absence and/or weakness of laws and regulations, the prevalence of smoking in Cameroon is set to increase due to the intense marketing, commercial, advertising and promotional activities of the tobacco industry, in violation of existing laws and regulations. The industry is multiplying strategies to better meet its targets and market its products.
On the commercial side, it is important to note the arrival on the market in recent days of a new cigarette brand called « YES ». This brand, manufactured by the Mauritian company POTOMAC TOBACCO COMPANY with branches in the US, is imported to Cameroon via South Africa by the former MP Celestin Ketchanga popularly known as « ketch » through his trading and distribution company located at Akwa Douala.
Similarly, we note that the industry is now investing more in the distribution of its products. At the beginning of February, there was the opening of a large tobacco distribution center in Yaoundé, known as the « Tobacco Bureau ». The center is located in Etoa Meki, in a popular roundabout frequented by thousands of road users. This structure distributes cigarettes in wholesale and retail at relatively low prices compared to other places in the country. A pack of Malboro for example costs 700 F. CFA at the Tobacco Bureau while it is sold at 1000 F. CFA in other outlets. Benson $ Hedge cost 795 F the package compared to 1000F. CFA elsewhere.
The tobacco distribution center has acquired tricycles to ease the distribution of tobacco products to clients. These clients are well organized according to different sectors of the city of Yaoundé.Each sector has a head who addresses the needs of all dealers within his/her jurisdiction. .
With regards to promotion, there is an increasing presence of vehicles in the colors of cigarette brands (Aspen, Vega and Business). These vehicles are intended to facilitate the deployment of sales teams in the field for commercial and promotional activities such as free tasting, and the distribution of branded gadgets like umbrellas and calendars, etc…
Apart from the A5 and A3 advertising posters which persist in the field, there is also indirect advertising of tobacco products in films and music videos broadcast by certain audiovisual media covering the country. Some of these media are national (Channel 5, Crtv, Sweet Tv) and others are foreign (France 3) that broadcast in Cameroon.
Faced with this situation, the Cameroon Coalition for Tobacco Control, which collected this information through its monitoring work, denounced these activities of the tobacco industry to the authorities, media and partners. C3T heavily counts on the mobilization of all for major actions to stop this activities of the tobacco industry.