BATs African Footprint

BAT's African Footprint - Highlights from the report

BAT’s Scramble for Africa

• BAT is the second largest tobacco company in the world and is dominant in sub-Saharan Africa. BAT sell cigarettes in at least 38 African countries and has more than a 90% market share in the following ten African Countries:

Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

• BAT remains upbeat about its prospects in Africa. An internal BAT document noted: “We should not be depressed simply because the total free world market appears to be declining. Within the total market, there are areas of strong growth, particularly in Asian and Africa…It is an exciting prospect.”

However, the consequences of BAT’s presence in Africa, are far from exciting for the people who live there. Indeed if tobacco sales continue to rise, the prospects are grim.

Footprint on Health

• In Uganda, 12 million people get malaria each year, and 110,000 die. BAT and other corporations blocked a government malaria prevention programme to treat farm workers’ homes with pesticides - because of fears the chemicals might contaminate their crops.

• Tobacco growing is not unique in its use of child labour but children on tobacco farms face particular risk from pesticide exposure and nicotine poisoning.

Footprint on Social and Economic Wellbeing

• Zimbabwe is gripped by famine, yet intervention by BAT means the country remains among the world’s biggest tobacco producers. In 2005, the BAT-sponsored Tobacco Grower of the Year award went to Monica Chinamasa, wife of the country’s Justice Minister. The couple had been accused of seizing the farm two years’ earlier, forcing off the owners with threats of violence.

• In Kenya, BAT gives loans for seeds, pesticides and fertilisers and buys back the tobacco at a price of their choosing. To quote one farmer: “The loan the tobacco firm provides is really weighing us down. After the deduction you get nothing.”
This echoes the experience of “share croppers” in America - ex-slaves who were bonded by debt after borrowing money for seed from their former masters.

• In Kenya, BAT’s political connections resulted in a new law compelling farmers to sell tobacco to BAT. It was already paying farmers less than other companies.

• Economies that depend upon tobacco leaf production, like Malawi and Zimbabwe, rank among the poorest in the world.

Footprint on the Environment

• Malawi has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world and tobacco growing is a contributory factor. Although BAT has a re-afforestation programme many of the replacement trees are not indigenous and adversely affect bio-diversity.


• Smoking rates in Africa are rising most sharply among young people and women. BAT’s marketing associates its brands with glamour, style, beauty, sport and celebrity - methods it claims to have voluntarily given up in the UK 30 years ago. Smoking among 13 to 15-year-olds is 33% in some parts of Uganda. In Nigeria, smoking among young women rose ten-fold during the 1990s.

• BAT breached its own weak marketing code by allowing cigarettes to be sold singly - popular with children. BAT acknowledged it had begun an investigation into the alleged marketing breaches, but has failed to report publicly on its findings.

• BAT says it is trying to end child labour by partly funding the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation. In 2006, ECLTG’s entire income was US$ 2.7 million – one-fifteenth of what the industry earns from unpaid child labour in Malawi alone – and around half the salary paid to BAT chief executive Paul Adams.

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BAT's African Footprint
A report by ASH documenting the social, economic, health and environmental impact of BAT's activity in Africa.
Author: Published By: ASH Published : 29/04/2008

Child carrying basket of tobacco



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Sportsman tobacco kiosk in isolated field



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Woman picking tobacco



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Child picking tobacco

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Two girls in tobacco field



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Farm Manager

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Sleeping child with tobacco in the background



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