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British American Tobacco Reports Huge Profits

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Nairobi, Kenya, April 25, 2006 – Company executives Tuesday said profits by British American Tobacco (BAT) jumped from 1.2 billion Kenyan Shillings in 2004 to 3.2 billion shillings currently, or a 158% leap due to soaring tobacco consumption in the Eastern and Central Africa region

The Kenyan cigarette maker, a subsidiary of the London-based BAT, said export and contract manufacture volumes increased by 158 percent, buoyed by the huge consumption of the company's products in Somalia, Djibouti and Rwanda

"BAT Kenya is now exporting to new markets, including Somaliland, Ethiopia, Uganda, Congo, the Comoros, Mauritius, Malawi and Zambia," BAT Kenya Managing Director, Simeon Welford told the firm's shareholders during a general meeting here

The company grew its profit margins despite a huge campaign to limit smoking in public, amid plans to strictly regulate the tobacco industry, which is blamed for Africa's spiraling health crisis, including the increases in cancer and other chest ailments

"One important issue in 2006 will be the regulation of the tobacco industry," Welford said, giving a cautious welcome to plans by the Kenyan Parliament to introduce a new tobacco legislation to ban smoking in public and limit the sale of cigarette sticks

The price of cigarette increased in Kenya after the health ministry imposed 10% excise tax on the commodity in the June 2005 budget

And BAT was forced to close its manufacturing subsidiary in Kampala after the Ugandan government banned smoking in public places

The Nairobi factory has thus become a regional centre of manufacturing for Eastern and Central African countries and the Horn of Africa as well as some markets of the Indian Ocean Islands, and Southern African countries (except South Africa)

"We have in various forums given our position that we welcome regulation that takes into account, the interest of all stakeholders in the industry, namely, the farmers, manufacturers, consumers, suppliers and the trade, all of who derive their income directly or indirectly which supports over 2 million Kenyans," said Welford

Meanwhile, BAT Chairman, Evanson Mwaniki hoped that an anti- tobacco bill that is being debated in the Kenyan Parliament will seek to balance its primary objective of reducing the impact of tobacco on public health, whilst also recognizing the socio economic reality of tobacco growing and processing

Source: Pan African News Agency

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