Cigarettes smuggled into Egypt include chemicals that can further heighten the risk of cancer for smokers, claims a new study by the National Research Centre (NRC).
Egypt's largest cigarette-maker, Eastern Company, commissioned the Cairo-based NRC to examine the components of smuggled cigarettes which typically retail for less than half the price of licenced brands.
Made outside the country then brought in illegally, bypassing tax and health regulations, such cigarettes are estimated to make up 20 per cent of Egypt's market, British American Tobacco said recently.
NRC's study include 10 smuggled brands, including 'Malimbo', 'MJ' and 'Roseman'.
The centre subsequently issued a letter to "whom it may concern" indicating that one particular component they found could "lead to irregularities in cell split which increases the possibility of developing malignancy".
Another component causing "harmful effects to the neurosystem" was also identified by Egypt's largest governmental research body.
Consumers interviewed by Ahram Online, however, were dismissive of such findings.
Mahmoud El-Shazli, in his early 40s, had since his teenage years smoked Cleopatras, Egypt's most popular cigarette, made by the state-owned Eastern Company.
Nine months ago he shifted to Malimbo. He rejected claims about the "extra-harmful" side-effects of his new choice.
"They keep on saying it causes all sorts of bad stuff but that's not true," the public worker insisted, brandishing the butt of a Malimbo. "This cigarette tastes better and it's much cheaper."
Malimbo typically sells at LE4 per pack while Cleopatra retails for LE7.
Cigarette smuggling has surged since the outbreak of Egypt's uprising in January 2011 and the partial collapse of former president Hosni Mubarak's security forces.
Only three companies are licenced to make and sell cigarettes in Egypt; the current market leader Eastern Company, British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International.
In a move to combat cigarette smuggling, Egypt's government said last week that all local cigarette manufacturers would be obliged to stamp their products by the beginning of June.
Company officials, however, say such efforts will do little to solve the problem that has cost them precious market share.