Egypt's main and sole tobacco producer said its total cigarette production over the past fiscal year has seen an uptick of around 8.5 percent, with 82 billion cigarettes produced and 79 billion sold, mostly to Egyptians, in this period.
Eastern Company—predominantly owned by the Egyptian state, manufactured 82 billion cigarettes in the year—nearly 61 billion for local market--with 7 million extra cigarettes in total.
Of the total output, 79 billion cigarettes were officially sold by the colonial-era company to consumers, mostly in the local market, the company said in a statement quoted by Ahram Arabic on Sunday.
The sale increase comes despite a 50% hike in sales taxes imposed on local and imported cigarettes by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in February, driving prices of a pack of cigarettes up by up to 25%.
The company, which has yielded LE 73 million (nearly $9 million) worth of export profits, entirely imports raw tobacco from abroad--which it says requires a monthly investment of $30 million.
The World Health Organization says that, according to 2013 estimates, over 20% percent of the Egyptian population, or approximately 18 million people, smoke tobacco daily.
It says the North African country is one of 15 countries worldwide suffering most from tobacco-related illnesses.
The World Lung Foundation reported that 50,000 Egyptians die from tobacco-related diseases every year, according to 2013 figures, making smoking the fourth largest cause of death in the country.