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Senegal: Outrage over $0.79 packs of Marlboro cigarettes

Anti-smoking activists in Senegal are fuming over a decision by Philip Morris International to cut the price of Marlboro cigarettes to just 79 cents a pack.
Senegal cigarettes price 12 22 2011Enlarge
Packets of cigarettes are seen in a mobile tobacconist's booth in Dakar, Senegal on December 20, 2011. US tobacco giant Phillip Morris has reduced the price of its best-selling Marlboro cigarette brand by 40 percent in Senegal. (SEYLLOU DIALLO/AFP/Getty Images)

While a pack of Marlboro cigarettes costs about $6 in the United States, the price in Senegal is now a bargain basement $0.79, following a decision by Philip Morris International (PMI) to cut prices in the West African country.

Marlboro, the world's best-selling cigarette, now costs 400 CFA francs (79 cents US) a pack in Senegal, down from 650 CFA francs — a price cut of nearly 40 percent, according to Agence France-Presse.

Anti-smoking activists in Senegal are reportedly fuming over decision. They accuse tobacco companies of pushing into Africa because they're losing business in the West, where there are increasingly stringent anti-smoking laws.

The head of a Senegalese anti-smoking umbrella group said it will ask the government to force PMI to reverse the price cut.

AFP said the company refused to explain the decision to slash Marlboro pack prices.

The US group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said in a statement that the cheaper Marlboro cigarettes in Senegal is "a move sure to increase tobacco use among youth."

"Senegal suffers from alarming smoking rates, with nearly one out of every three adults and an estimated 20 percent of youth already smoking," the group said.

"It is imperative that Senegal's government take action to counter PMI's price ploy by increasing the taxes on tobacco products,” Matthew L. Myers, the group's president, was quoted as saying.

"Higher cigarette prices are scientifically proven to prevent young people from starting to smoke and encourage smokers to quit," he said.

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