Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Up in Smoke

Recently BAT Uganda introduced the Dunhill brand of cigarettes to the Ugandan market. The launch was a festive and colourful one at Speke Resort Munyonyo. Personally I hope the brand does not gain any popularity, but probably not for the reasons you think.

I am pissed off that they have the audacity to introduce other brands to Uganda after shafting us and closing down the manufacturing plant in Jinja. They send all the employment to Kenya and they still want our dimes.

You might wonder why I am not going on about the grand conspiracy to have tobacco kill off the African through increased cigarette production in Africa after deep slumps in sales in other parts of the world. Or how cigarette smoking is bad for the health etc.

First, I won’t be telling anybody anything new. Second, seeing how I have been smoking for 11years it wouldn’t seat right with me. So I am looking at this purely as a smoker and a pissed off Ugandan one at that.

For all its sins BAT Uganda (BATU) was until last year putting a paycheck in the hands of hundreds of Ugandans employed at its cigarette manufacturing plant In Jinja. They were also paying the Uganda Revenue Authority a hefty paycheck after selling said cigarettes. But last year they did some restructuring and shut down the Jinja plant and decided that it made better economic sense to produce all the cigarettes for the Ugandan market in Kenya (all that is left here is a leaf processing plant and administrators). Obviously many jobs were lost and the shillings paid to the national coffers are less . BATU’s net loss was 6.94 billion shillings ($3.86 million) mainly attributed the loss to restructuring costs resulting from the closure of its Jinja plant.

My excuses are dwindling. I used to tell myself that by smoking I was doing my bit in keeping a tobacco farmer in Arua, or a factory worker in Jinja, happy. Taking one for the team, so to speak.
Besides young Ugandans smoke to much already and they are starting younger. We do not need any more temptations for those impressionable wannabes. I am waiting to see what coolness they will associate Dunhill with.I can already see the yuppies displaying their shiny Dunhill packets at counters from SteakOut to Silk Royale.
Yes, I know that my REX brand is produced in Kenya. I still can't help thinking of it as a Ugandan cigarette. If I must smoke imported tobacco at least let it be something historically associated with Uganda.

What? I am not making sense? You are probably right. I am in a very “Jay state of mind” right now. Just that there is no forum for Ugandan smokers to rant in.
Ministry of Health Warning- Cigarette Smoking can be harmful to your health

Onyo la wizara ya afya - Uvutaji wa sigara waweza kudhuru afya yako.


Degstar said...

u said it for us all.
my aunt worked in the Jinja factory.
we grew up - in jinja - tellin time by the BATU factory siren, if u were outside Victoria Nile when you heard it, u were late coz it was already 7:30am and your ass was gonna pick up fallen leaves before class.
my very first fag came from that factory!
i just might throw BATU out n gowith d 'erb

jkb said...

Jay, I am shocked to learn that BATU moved its production benefits (& costs too) to Kenya!! My hubby and myself are anti-globalization and anti-free trade activists, in otherwords social democrats/liberals. The idea of out resourcing has always created a mishap in wealth distribution, and we all know what that leads to.

I gather the EAC is intended to cancel out the imbalances. As they are on that, kindly send a message to BATU in kind by taking your business elsewhere.

Cindy said...

Very interesting blog, thanks 4 the comment btw, lookin forward to reading ur archives and future entries...that sucks about BATU, guess ur runnin outta excuses now, huh, so u'd better quit while ur still mad at em, lol...u can't give em any business now, not after all this and if it's not a Rex, it's not a cigarette, lol, like I'd know but hey, just addin my 2 cents worth to the bid to stop u from harming ur health like the kind ministry of health clearly warns u...:)

Iwaya said...

hey, don't you think it's about time you like UPDATED!!!!!