January 30th, 2014
Africa: Blowing Smoke in Africa - Big Tobacco and Child Smokers
By RAVI JAIPAUL
In Mtwapa, Kenya, palm trees shade 14-year-old Destiny and his young friends as they overlook a warm, white beach that backs onto the shimmering Indian Ocean. Clouding the pristine view are puffs of smoke from cigarettes they’ve purchased for a few cents per single stick at the propped-up convenience shack on the corner. “All of us, all of my friends smoke,” says Destiny, inhaling deeply from his cigarette before exhaling the smoke slowly through his nose. “We see [tobacco advertisements] everywhere, and the cigarettes are cheap.”
As the popularity of smoking has slowed in the developed world, it has spread rapidly in developing countries. And as the West has tightened regulations and tried to push Big Tobacco out of the limelight, cigarette companies have turned their attention to African markets, and young people are taking up the habit.