Despite the great importance of smoking tobacco, cigars and cigarillos, this sector has been neglected in Tunisia by the authorities, especially by state-owned Régie Nationale des Tabacs et des Allumettes (RNTA).
Tunisians are big fans of hookah (also called “shisha” locally) smoking, which is present in 80% of cafés in Tunisia. This sector is dominated by foreign brands such as Mazaya, Al Fakher, and Adalya, which are smuggled into Tunisia on the black market.
With an absence of legal products, illicit trade has gained a large share in cigarillos and cigars. There are international products such as Café Crème in cigarillos, and even Cuban cigars are available, sometimes sold at tobacconists in Tunisia.
After years of hesitation and procedures, domestic state-owned Régie Nationale des Tabacs et des Allumettes (RNTA), which holds the tobacco monopoly in Tunisia, will launch hookah smoking tobacco in 2022. The company finalised the necessary tests in 2021 and approved the sale of such products in the local territory from 2022.
On the other hand, the overall neglect of cigars and cigarillos produced by Régie Nationale des Tabacs et des Allumettes (RNTA) will ultimately lead to such branded products disappearing from the territory. The number of consumers purchasing these products is decreasing in Tunisia, along with a lack of production and official imports.
However, despite the ongoing high levels of illicit trade, state-owned dominant Régie Nationale des Tabacs et des Allumettes (RNTA) will continue its battle against the black market. For example, as seen with the 2022 launch of smoking tobacco for hookahs.
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Cigars, Cigarillos and Smoking Tobacco
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