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Cigarettes & Smoking in Egypt


Page update - Sep 4, 2022

In Egypt, about 30 percent of the population smoke, and the number of smokers is increasing by a few per cent a year. For a long time, the government did not fight smoking. Frightened by the sad statistics, the authorities have recently begun to think about the problem, and cigarette prices have started to rise. We'll talk about all of this on this page, and primarily about prices.

This page will only talk about the traditional ways of smoking. You can read about vaping, iQos and similar on our separate page "Vaping and iQos in Egypt".

Prices and the crisis in August 2023

At the time this page was updated in August 2023, there is a "tobacco crisis" in Egypt.

Cigarette prices haven't been raised in a long time, and inflation in the country is crazy. As a result, the market is out of control. Official prices are almost nowhere respected. There is a shortage of cigarettes in the cities. There is no shortage in the resorts yet, and probably won't be.

The most famous local Cleopatra cigarettes are officially 24 EGP a pack, but in reality they sell for 30-50 EGP a pack.

For the current Egyptian pound exchange rates, see our in-depth review "What's the money in Egypt".

Perhaps by the time you read this page, the crisis will be over. Or maybe the crisis will continue. In any case, TAKE A FULL SUPPLY of cigarettes with you.

Be aware that in resort areas, cigarettes are usually sold at inflated prices. We have given the official retail prices. In resort areas, the prices are 20-200% higher, depending on the distance to the resort and the greediness of the seller.

The most paradoxical of all - Camel cigarettes

The Camel brand is world famous. You can see pictured on the pack a camel, palm trees, and the pyramids of Giza, suggesting it is of Egyptian origin. See the logo near, click to enlarge.

Many tourists hope to try real Camel cigarettes in Egypt or bring them back as a colorful Egyptian souvenir.

In fact, Camel cigarettes have nothing to do with Egypt and never had. Since their inception in 1913, they have been made in the US from a blend of American and Turkish tobacco. In those days, Egyptian tobacco products were in vogue, and this pack design was a marketing ploy (what is culturally known as tricking the customer).

Of course, you can buy Camel cigarettes in Egypt, but they are imported and quite expensive. At the time this page was updated (August 2023) the price was about 50 Egyptian pounds per pack (20 pcs).

Tobacco cultivation and cigarette production in Egypt

Until 1890, tobacco was grown in Egypt in the Nile Delta. It was considered to be of poor quality. In 1890, the government totally banned the cultivation of tobacco in the country. However, this did not stop the country's tobacco industry from working, developing and producing cigarettes of decent quality and taste.

Egyptians made cigarettes from imported Turkish tobacco. Egyptian cigarettes became fashionable in Europe. The Egyptians themselves smoked little at the time, and the export of tobacco products gave a good boost to the treasury.

In 1952, everything changed. The entire tobacco industry was nationalized. Exports stopped completely, and until now Egypt only produced tobacco products for the domestic market. The market was protected from outside suppliers by huge duties, which affected the prices of imported tobacco products. We'll talk about prices later, though.

Now Egyptians are no longer making cigarettes from Turkish tobacco, but from imported raw materials from India and China. Turkish tobacco has become too expensive and, of course, the quality has suffered.

Many tourists can't smoke modern Egyptian cigarettes because of unfamiliar taste. Therefore, we recommend taking tobacco with you or buying it at Duty Free.

Cigarette prices in Egypt

The first thing that catches the eye of any tourist is the big difference in price between imported and local cigarettes in Egypt. At the moment (August 2023), a pack of Marlboro costs about 55 EGP (Egyptian pounds), while a pack of Egyptian Cleopatra cigarettes costs 24 pounds. The difference is twice.

The price of 55 EGP is very low if compared with the price in the US, the UK or other Western Europe countries. At the moment (August 2023), 55 EGP is 1.78 US dollars or 1.63 Euros.

The prices for other brands: Winston - 40 EGP, L&M - 39, Merit - 59, Marlboro - 55, Royals - 24, Mondial - 24, Matossian - 29, Boston - 23.

The conclusions are simple. The best price/quality rate option is to buy cigarettes at Duty Free. According to Egyptian customs regulations you can bring into the country 200 cigarettes, 100 cigars, 50 cigars or 200 grams of loose tobacco.

Many tourists bring even more, as customs control is lax. However, we recommend that you stick to the legal requirements and don't take any chances.

In Egypt, there are Duty Free shops in airports after the customs control, that is, on the country's territory (not at no man's land as usual). There are no big restrictions on buying cigarettes at these Egyptians Duty Free shops. You can buy up to 3 cartons (200 pieces each). The main thing to remember is that you can use the Egyptian Duty Free within 48 hours of arrival.

Serious restrictions apply only to alcohol, which you can buy no more than 3 liters. Read all the details in our review "Alcohol in Egypt".

If you are going to a distant resort, such as Marsa Alam, El Kusair or Dahab, where there are no Duty Free outlets, it is highly recommended to use the duty free shops in airport immediately after arrival.

Cleopatra - the most famous Egyptian cigarettes

Queen Cleopatra is the most famous Egyptian woman in history. Hotels, streets, bays, and ships in Egypt are named after her. Egypt's most famous cigarettes are also named after her.

The brand was launched in 1962 and there is a curious story behind it.

In 1962, at an international exhibition in Cairo, Egyptians and Syrians set up a pavilion where they displayed samples of their tobacco products.

President Nasser visited the exhibition and this pavilion. Nasser was a chain smoker, but refused local cigarettes. He took a pack of American KENT cigarettes out of his pocket.

Of course, President Nasser was confused, and he explained that he reacted very badly to tobacco brand changes, and that he was used to KENT products a long time ago. In justification, he said that he would be happy to switch to Egyptian cigarettes if the industry started to produce a brand that replicates KENT.

Experts in the Egyptian tobacco industry took this excuse as a guide to action. They bought several blocks of KENT on the black market, analyzed and created their own variety, as close as possible in composition, taste, and appearance.

The name came by itself, because just at that time the movie Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the lead roles came out. Thus the Cleopatra brand was born.

The first four blocks were sent as a gift to the president. But, he did not keep his promise and did not switch to smoking these cigarettes. He continued to smoke smuggled American cigarettes.

This story was told by Kamal Katba, a former employee of Egypt's National Chamber of Tobacco. His recollections can be believed.

Anti-smoking in Egypt

For a long time, the Egyptian government did not care about smoking control, and Egyptians did not smoke much. The problem has worsened in recent years.

In Egypt, the authorities do not impose any major restrictions on smokers, but rather try to influence them economically. The last tax, excise and duty increase was in June 2023, but it is clearly not the last.

Of course, tobacco advertising is completely banned in Egypt. You can't smoke in healthcare or children's institutions, you can't smoke in transport or government offices. But in hotels, you can smoke on balconies as well as in rooms (if the hotel management doesn't forbid this). Smoking is allowed in bars and restaurants. Let's wait and see, maybe new bans will be introduced.

There is Law 52(1981) on the Prevention of Harmful Smoking. This law has been amended, supplemented and corrected many times. But the situation hasn't changed - the Egyptians have ignored this law for 40 years. They smoke wherever they can. There are ugly pictures on the packs under this law, but that's about it.

There is a fine for smoking in an unauthorized place according to the amendments to Law 52(1981) made by Law 154(2007). The fine is from 50 to 100 Egyptian pounds. The fine is very small and not surprisingly, no one is afraid of these fines.

Good and important to know

- For a full list of things you can bring into Egypt, and restrictions on quantities, see our review "What you can and can't bring into Egypt";

- If you do decide to bring home Egyptian cigarettes, read our review "What you can and can't take out of Egypt";

- What other expenses are waiting for you on vacation, read "How much money to take to Egypt".

Have a great holiday in Egypt, and read our pages about the country (see the pages list below).

TIPS FOR TOURISTS

What Don't Do in Egypt

Cheats of Tourists in Egypt

What to Take to Egypt

Sharks in Egypt

To Egypt With Kids

How NOT to Get Poisoned in Egypt

National Holidays in Egypt

Weather in Egypt by Month

MONEY AND EXPENSES

What Money in Egypt

Money Exchange in Egypt

How Much Money to Take to Egypt

TRANSPORT

Taxi in Egypt

Cairo Metro

From Hurghada to Cairo

From Sharm to Cairo

From Hurghada to Luxor

From Cairo to Ain Sokhna

Intercity Buses - Guide

GIFTS, SOUVENIRS, CUSTOMS LAW

What to Bring from Egypt

What You Can & Not Bring in Egypt

What You Can & Not Take out of Egypt

ABOUT EGYPT

What Language is Spoken in Egypt

Who Are the Modern Egyptians

Friday & Weekends in Egypt

Ramadan in Egypt

TELECOM

Internet in Egypt Cheaply

RESORT REGIONS

Sharm El Sheikh

Naama Bay

Hurghada

Ain Sokhna

Mediterranean Rivera

BAD HABITS

Alcohol in Egypt - Prices & Rules

Local Egyptian Alcohol

Cigarettes & Smoking in Egypt

Vape and iQos in Egypt

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