ZIMBABWEANS puffed up close to 200 million cigarettes during the first quarter of the year, figures release by a leading cigarette maker showed.
Savannah Tobacco sold half a billion cigarette sticks in Zimbabwe and other markets during the first quarter of this year, executive chairman Adam Molai said.
Savannah Tobacco, which produces the Pacific brand of cigarettes, launched the cigarette brands a few years back buoyed by an aggressive product mix targeting both low-end to top-end consumers.
In Zimbabwe the company sold 168 million cigarette sticks in the first quarter while 322 million cigarettes found their way into foreign markets, according to figures released by Savannah.
â€œTotal sales volume for the first quarter of 2009 is 490 million sticks. Total Zimbabwe sales volume in the same quarter is 168 million sticks,â€ said Molai.
He said his company was enjoying a near majority share of the market for long dominated by British American Tobacco, who also claim to possess the lionâ€™s share of the market.
But the figure of just how much tobacco went up in smoke in the first quarter is understated since it does not take into account British American Tobaccoâ€™s numbers.
Savannah Tobacco owns the Pacific Storm, Mist, Breeze and Blue brands. The companyâ€™s Pacific Storm has been widely accepted by formerly BAT customers.
â€œOur brands have been extremely well accepted on the market hence our need to further increase capacity after having done the same last year,â€ Molai said.
The company also has the Pegasus Cigarettes brand.
Despite strong health disclaimers on tobacco products,Â tobacco based firms continue to achieve record sales worldwide.
BY CHRIS MURONZI